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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 28, 2013 12:00pm-5:00pm EST

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>> translator: structural reforms need to be pursued on the one hand, and on the other hand we need to pursue policies of fiscal progress. both of these, um, to me, are very closely interconnected. consolidation and growth basically are two sides of one and the same coin, because in this way we'll be able to regain trust. the current situation under which we find ourselves can be characterized by saying, well, the fact of time is of great importance. we have launched consolidation measures, new borrowing has been halved in the european union, but -- and we also have a number of structural reforms that we launched, but we are more than aware of the fact that the
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effectiveness of the these reforms can only be felt later than the structural reforms that have actually been introduced. it's something that we've seen in germany too. there is a certain time lag of two to three years until, um, the consequences are felt. and now we have to make the best use of our time, um, and do this in such a way that we don't have an escalation of a political situation, domestic situation such as in spain, for example. when you have a youth unemployment of 60%, that's particularly among the young people, in portugal and spain, we have to see to it that we open up new perspectives and perhaps also, um, introduce certain bridging measures, um, that will then allow those reform processes to take place without unduly disturbing domestic peace. let me, perhaps, also say something on the very
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broad-based discussion that i know has taken place here to when should one embark on structural reforms, when is the most propitious moment from an economic and business point of view? many economists say it's much easier to pursue structural reforms when the overall economic situation is somewhat less tense, when you have growth. on the other hand, politically we have made the experience that you need pressure for pursuing structural reforms in germany too. unemployment had to hit a high of five million until there thes a readiness to actually pursue such structural reforms. so my conclusion out of this is when today when we're in a difficult situation, now we have to embark on those reforms so that we may enjoy a better life tomorrow. and, obviously, we found new tools, new instruments, those that we adopted all around in europe, and we also found new instruments of solidarity.
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the esm, five years ago it would have been completely inconceivable to set up such a permanent mechanism in order to protect the euro. now we have it. now it is in place. and that's an excellent advantage. on the other hand, for financial and fiscal solidity we have the so-called fiscal compact. this, too, is in force ever since the beginning of this year, and there's now a particular point where we have to continue working, so we have improved fiscal consolidation, we have better, binding commitments, better tools, we have better mechanisms. we also have as regards banking supervision made considerable progress as of 2014, we will have a banking supervision in place in the eurozone in which, obviously, also other european countries can participate. but we're still lacking, and
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that's something that we need to do this year, 2013, is to see to it that over the next few years to come we also have a convergence in competitiveness within the common euro area. so not somewhere where we are sort of, um, expecting the lowest common denominator, but competitiveness that measures wealth against the best of us and against the best on the global markets. and showing us access to global markets. because the euro member states and the european member states generally can only grow when they produce goods that can be sold on international marketplaces. this is why international global competitiveness is so important. we are currently talking in the european union about something that we will do in parallel to the fiscal compact for competitiveness. when nation states enter into
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agreements with the commission, where if you like they enter into binding commitments to improve certain elements of their competitiveness that are yet not up to par by global standards. [speaking german] >> translator: quite often one will have to debate, for example, unit labor cost research, development, efficiency of administration and wage costs that fall within the realm of national sovereignty of the european union member states. the national parliaments would have to give political legit maasty so such -- legitimacy to such agreements that would then be binding so that we all know to what extent competitiveness in the euro area will be improved. there's another road that we shall embark on, namely we should do everything we can in order to insure increased mobility of our labor force within the european single market. we have barriers of language, we have barriers of portability, of
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social security systems, and this area the possibilities, the potential of a single market needs to be tapped also for a single labor market. and a third thing that we need to do. we have to respond to the question of how this single market, this european single market ought to look in order to be recognized as an important global player on international markets. so we must not only be inward-looking as europeans, we also and in particular need to see to it that we are globally, um, recognized and acknowledged players and that we have companies within our frontiers that can be global players. and here the european commission and also the european-level administration general needs to, perhaps, adjust a little more to
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the global challenge. especially to my colleague, david cameron, you, too, have addressed competitiveness, seeing this as an essential issue of insuring prosperity of europe for the future. and this is why over this past year and in the years ahead we should not only address the question whether investors be it, um, sovereign funds or private investors, um, how can we assure them that their trust in us is justified? at least from a european perspective we, obviously, want to be as competitive as possible to insure the prosperity of our people. that is our interest. and that is what we have addressed already and what we need to continue to address. we are not yet where we want to be, um, and we're not yet out of the woods, but a lot actually has happened here that goes in the right direction. one of the big engines of growth, um, of the global economy and also for us in
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europe, um, is free trade. we have, unfortunately, a lot of protectionist tendencies in the world today. when we met at the g20 meeting outlined this time and again and impressed this on us, and we need to do everything we can in order to contain these protectionist tendencies. the doha round, the world trade organization has not, unfortunately, developed in such a positive direction as we wished. so in the future, too, unfortunately, we need to pin our hopes on financial trade agreements. and germany, i can promise you, will be very proactive as regards the conclusion of such fha agreements. we've now given the mandate for a free trade agreement with japan, with canada. we're shortly before conclusion of an fta with the -- [inaudible] states. we urgently need to come to such agreements. and after decades of failed attempts, we would like to do this with the united states as
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well, develop such a free trade agreement with the european union. quite often cultural exports are a bit bit of a hurdle here on bh sides, but i think we need to do, we need to do this, we can do this, and we all will benefit. europe, um, has about 7% of the global population these days. if economic growth can be relaunched, we shall again have about 25% of the global gdp, and we have 50% of global social expenditure. so our prosperity can only be maintained if we prove to be innovators and if we measure up against the best. so let me make one remark about his address to germany quite often these days. german growth is driven by domestic consumption.
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we've done everything in order to increase domestic consumption, but we are still criticized for imbalances. now, let us look at the cause of such imbalances. if we look at unit labor costs in europe, were we to meet sort of halfway, then we have accepted that europe will no longer be competitive globally and that germany can no longer export globally. that cannot be the objective of our efforts and, therefore -- [inaudible] in current accounts also are the hallmark of competitiveness, and this is not something we ought to put at stake at any cost. now, my last remark is on regulation of financial markets. we heard today from david cameron and the, um, chancellor of the exchequer and also our german finance minister started an initiative on this that this year g8 will look at tax evasion and tax fraud. i think it's enormously important issue, and i think the
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regulation on the shadow banking system, um, also needs to play a very important role for the russia meeting for the g20. we have quite a lot of regulation for our banks, basel iii comes to mind here. here, actually, we have to be vigilant that the lending capacity that is to boost, after all, economic growth doesn't get too contained, too limited, and i can only hope and join our partners in the united states to introdiscuss deuce this -- introduce this as well, otherwise a new imbalance here. through better regulation of banks, the capital that they need to the capital reserves that they need to have, we also see moral hazard in the sense that people increasingly seem to fly into the shadows of shadow banking. we were at one in saying when we agreed this at the g20 and the thought that every financial instrument, um, every financial be product, every financial market needs to be placed in
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regulation. we are very far from that. i can only call on the financial industry to support us in this because another bubble that we create, another deep crisis for business for the global economy will be very, very difficult to master and will be very difficult for our democracies to master because people will then completely lose trust in democracy. we in germany have laid very good experience in, actually, placing our hopes in the two sides of industry, that they in the sense and the spirit of the social market economy shoulder the responsibilities, but they will not allow us to make the same mistakes again, and they will not forgive us for making the same mistakes again. so i can only enjoin you to pursue this goal of regulation of international financial markets. [speaking german] >> translator: i agree with previous speakers, um, national banks will not be able to solve
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problems. they can build bridges, and the european central bank, for example, contributed to it. but they have also made it very clear, the ecb has made it very, very clear that only those who pursue structural reforms can rely on our support. so structural reforms, um, have to be put in place. we have to place the necessary framework, take the necessary measures to put framework conditions in place in order to generate growth. thank you very much for your attention. [applause] [speaking german] >> translator: madam chancellor, what you have said reminds me of the fact that we passed exams last year, we came out of school without failing the exams, but we still have a lot of homeworker to do. may i ask you then, and i link
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up to what you said two years ago when you were here, and i quote you two years ago you said, the exchange rates -- [speaking german] >> translator: -- should respect the macroeconomic conditions of a country, unquote. and if we take this with regard to competitiveness, do you feel that this would have an influence on competitiveness? [speaking german] >> translator: let me say i am not completely without worries on this. i think through the discussion in the g20 there's more of an awareness of, um, political influences or manipulations of the exchange rate, more sensitivity. the chinese government actually reacted quite favorably and also
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responded to our demand with a change, a certain change in their policies. i must admit that i looked with a certain degree of concern at japan right now. for europe, too, it's going to be important, um, that the big injection of liquidity that was given into the markets for the sake of the banks is siphoned off again. but i think the ecb is, actually, here a very positive force. they're playing a very positive role, and they will see to it that one refrains from the policy of manipulation and that, um, one pursues a policy that actually reflects the situation as it is that everyone is doing it as is the ecb. i think we would have less problems all over the world, but that's about the extent of my comment. [speaking german] >> translator: since you've touched upon central banks, what exactly are the objectives of
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central banks? we have the federal reserve that has set itself an additional objective, we've seen the more recent developments in japan. what did you think about the independence? you touched upon it, alluded to it. maybe you could go into a little more detail? [speaking german] >> translator: i think it is well known that we in germany and i share this without any reservation, um, are of the opinion that central banks should not be the ones who sweep up after politicians that created the big mess. such a difficult situation as the one that we had in the financial crisis, 2008 and 2009 or 2007, it is obviously important for central banks to step in and to help overcoming such a difficult situation. the ecb did that, actually,
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exploiting the very limits of its mandate. the mandate is much more limited than, for example, the one of the fed. the european central bank has to see to it that the currency is stable. they don't look at unemployment or growth rates different from the fed which says once unemployment has reached this or that level, um, we will continue a policy of buying bonds. that's not the policy of the ecb. but our liquidity systems, emergency assistance to banks, that's where the ecb steps in with great resolve. looking at the situation where the ecb did quite a lot, um, i still feel as a politician duty-bound to do my homework. because in the long run central banks will simply not be able to varnish, to gloss over, sorry, macroeconomic difficulties and weaknesseses.
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so we shouldn't now stop in our e.s and relent in our efforts. that's why the ecb said we're only going to continue buying bonds if countries pursue their course of reform. and that is the right condition to put in place. [speaking german] >> translator: madam chancellor, one question still remains unanswered after prime minister cameron's speech today. if the euro is to become the link for imperial strengthening, what is this going to do for those countries that are not part of the eurozone? [speaking german] >> translator: one shouldn't forget that the euro was, after all, introduced in the expectation that all member states of the european union would one day become members of the eurozone, that is to say would introduce the euro one day. the british prime minister said
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something today yet again that we've heard quite often that the british side, at least for the time being, it cannot become a member of the eurozone, sorry, and we have an opt-out here. also from the danish friends and in two referenda, i believe, the swedish people decided against joining the common currency. what we need to do is that all possible forms of enhanced cooperation, um, in the area of banking supervision, fiscal compact, um, enhanced economic coordination need to be exploited and need to be shaped in such a way that they're binding for eurozone members but are also freely accessible to those who as yet have not introduced the common currency. and that's so important for the general philosophical outlook that it's not a closed shop, but it's an open exercise for all of those who wish to be in on this which was the case, for example,
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with the fiscal compact introduced, national compact. we were able to win over 25 of 27 members even though 17 at the time only had the euro. and i think that's encouraging. and from other areas where we cooperate, for example, freedom of travel, we are familiar with such regimes of enhanced cooperation, so we should look at that without undue, um, worry. at the same time, we should not completely block off the possibility that we still wish for many others to join us in the euro. [speaking german] >> translator: madam chancellor, a philosopher said that far-reaching economic and political and social changes can only be achieved in small steps. this was also expressed in your speech.
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we have a lot to catch up with in many european countries. you said yourself that the time factor has an important part to play. do you think that europe will be able to in the time available since other countries are on the move as well to manage this, this homework? do you believe this? [speaking german] >> translator: let me say i would well say i'm optimistic but under certain conditions. if europe has seen the sign of the times, if it's willing to, um, look at the big picture, at what's happening on the global stage, um, and draw the necessary conclusions, then i think we have the necessary instruments and tools to be very successful globally. every time i go to china i am constantly reminded by my
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partners of the fact that we are the biggest single market of the world. we have, um, 50% of global percentage of it, we have also 25% of global gdp, so we can do quite a lot with that if we're open, if we don't shut ourselves off against the rest of the world, if we don't become complacent, if we're open to innovation and if we don't accept it as a given that europe has some kind of legal claim to be the leading continent in the rest of the world. our democratic experience, our economic order, the capability of our institutions, also of our national institutions is actually quite big. and if we don't accept to become ossified but use this to the the best of our people, we have good chances. and if we look at the enormous demographic change that we have to contend with, um, if we also draw the conclusion that we need
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to be more innovative, it's a good picture that i see ahead. if we just push this to the back of our mind and don't draw the necessary climate, then, no. but i will do my utmost to do that. [speaking german] >> translator: and i suppose that is also the wish that you would like to pass on to the participants here, that is the end of innovation and conditional optimism. any other wishes? [speaking german] >> translator: actually, my wish -- well, i'm saying this to investors, um, who are thinking currently, pondering investments in europe. central and eastern europe has been almost flying below the radar. a lot of reforms. we're often talking about other countries that are doing reforms, but don't forget that central and eastern european countries made enormous stride as regard to reform. so look at the investment climate in europe, it has changed for the better, and on a
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previous occasion to highlight this, our big burden right now is youth unemployment in europe. whoever is willing to step up to the plate and give at least a small contribution to opening up a perspective to young people, i can only invite you to do this in europe. we are, um, welcoming anyone with open arms who gives a piece of hope to young people. >> a very warm welcome to you, madam chancellor. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> the senate is coming in at 2 eastern this afternoon. a vote on the final hurricane sandy relief package is manned for 5:30. and tomorrow senators will take up the confirmation vote of the nomination of massachusetts senator john kerry to be the next secretary of state. live coverage here on c-span the.
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c-span2. a bipartisan group of senators today will unveil immigration proposals at a news conference at 2:30 eastern with live coverage on c-span. this is ahead of a speech president obama will give on immigration policy tomorrow in las vegas. and wanted to tell you a little bit more about some of the new members of the 113th congress from massachusetts. democratic elizabeth warren, who defeated incumbent senator scott brown, was an early advocate for the formation of the consumer financial protection bureau and is the first woman to represent massachusetts in the senate. over in the house, joseph kennedy will represent the state's 4th district. he's the grandson of former u.s. attorney general and presidential nominee robert f. kennedy. ♪ ♪ >> if we turn away from the
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needs of others, we align ourselves with those forces which are bringing about this suffering. >> the white house is a bully pulpit, and you ought to take advantage of it. >> obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis. >> i think i just had little antennas that went up and told me when somebody had their own agenda. >> so much influence in that office, it'd be just a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief's confidant. she's really, in a way, the only one in the world he can trust. >> many of the women who were first ladies, they were writers. a lot of them were writers, journalists, they wrote books. >> they are, in many cases, quite frankly, more interesting as human beings than their husbands. if only because they are not, first and foremost, defined and
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consequently limited by political ambition. >> dolly was both socially adept and politically savvy. >> with dolly madison loved every minute of it. mrs. monroe hated it. absolutely hated it. >> she warned her husband, you know, you can't rule without including what women want and what women have to contribute. >> and during the statement you were a little breathless, and it was too much looking down, and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. >> yes, ma'am. >> she's probably the most tragic of all of our first ladies. they never should have married. >> she later wrote in her memoir that she said i myself never made any decision. i only decided what was important and when to present it to my husband. now, you stop and think about how much power that is, it's a lot of power. [laughter] >> part of the battle against
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cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease. >> she transformed the way we look at these bug bugaboos and e it possible for countless people to survive and to flourish as a result. i don't know how many presidents realistically have that cupid of impact on the way -- that kind of impact on the way we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded about all of the people who have lived there before and particularly the women. >> the first ladies, their private and public lives. c-span's teaming up with the white house historical association for a first of its kind, original series for television. "first ladies: influence and image," airs over two seasons. season one begins presidents' day at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span, c-span radio
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and [inaudible conversations] >> now, more from the world economic forum in davos, switzerland. the heads of government from egypt, libya, lebanon and the palestinian authority last week discussed the political and social challenges facing the region. this is just over an hour. mach knox. [inaudible conversations] >> ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. i suppose one should say in traditional british style, one would have to say, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, because i see the prince in the front row. it's a great pleasure to have you all here. ..
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we need the cameras to stop once we start, please. we will have the conversation and then we
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will take a few questions from the floor. i want to warn you in advance since this is being taped, i ask you please to remember that you are asking a question which means it should be brief and it should be an actual question. if like to make a statement or speech there are many other opportunities at the world economic forum. this is not one of them. so with that, i want to welcome everybody to this as i say extraordinary panel. everybody has been an opinion about the arab spring. it is striking it me how many people have very strong opinions about the arab spring but with very little information, and with very little information about the diversity of experiences that countries have gone through in this arab spring. and yet you hear from senior politicians in the region, in the west, intellectuals,
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commentators, they're all sure it is a wonderful thing, a terrible thing. i think what we're going to try to do is drill down and to try to understand this phenomena, understand where it is going, and understand the political and economic context of the region we are in. i think that while it began in tunisia the centerpiece of the arab spring clearly was in egypt. we all have the memories of what it was like. in fact it was, it happened right after davos and in fact we were all here while the, while tahrir square was filling up. i remember talking to musa who was leaving that night to go to tahrir square, which is probably more important place to be than davos at that moment.
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so i'm going to start by asking his excellency, the prime minister of egypt, given where we are now, there are lots of egyptians as you know who feel that they have been let down. they're expected something that was going to transform their government, their lives. it was going to create, depending who you talk to a free and modern and open egypt, a dynamic egypt. they feel as though that hasn't happened. what would you say to them. >> well, like you said, today marks the second commemoration of the egypt revolution. actually in tahrir square as we speak has some people there. there are other people felt they were not able to, as they have been aspiring for but, expectations, expectations are different from various groups and this
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is the nature of a transitional period. so though we have, we're about to complete our democratic institutions, basic ones, democracy, democratic values requires time and effort and patience and accommodation since weigh inherited and it will take time. in april we have our parliamentary elections and institutions will be in place. the economically at the same time we have inherited lots of difficulty and challenges. so this is the situation. we need to strike a balance between the achieving the targets of the revolution and reality on the ground. it is not easy to do what the people wanted to do without a lot of hard work. people, you know, i think this is the story across many of the arab spring
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countries is the expectation, there was some overexpectation i should say but the reality of the ground, we were left with a shuttered economy and it will require assistance. it will require support from those in the region and from outside the region and so we can live up to the aspiration of the egyptian people. i want to tell the people in tahrir square right now demanding the, you know, that bread, freedom, social justice, human dignity, you know, after you, you air out your voice and statement go back to work, work hard for yourself, for your people, for your family because that is the only way to achieve the aspiration of the egyptian revolution. >> go work where? >> some of them have jobs. >> in egypt particularly there is concern about the muslim brotherhood, about the, the --.
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>> translator: before you start talking about the muslim brotherhood i would like to say the following. i think that the dissatisfaction of people, the reason for that is, that, 50 or 60 years have gone by since these countries gained their independence and there has been a revolution too. and i think that the way in which the regimes in place managed the region in general made people disappointed because there was so many aspirations for development in the first 20 or 30 years. the regimes were able to control matters to their favor and there were small groups of people who controlled everything and this led to disappointments. so we moved from dreams tonight mayor.
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-- to nightmare. this nightmare continued 20 or 30 years depending on the country. let's not forget. but the tunisian president remained in power 23 years, during that time human rights suffered. there were no freedoms. social justice suffered. economy suffered. it is normal that the people of these countries want equality. they want their lives to improve. but ever since the revolution things have been turned upside down so it is really illogical to think all these problems could be solved in one or two years. so, we have to understand that the freedoms will not be taken away from them again but that will take time. there will be problems but i think we will achieve good results in the end. >> let me come back to egypt because it is so sensitive. maybe they can go to work.
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one of the concerns people in egypt have as you know in cairo and also in the west is the rise of the muslim brotherhood, the election of a brotherhood president and the constitution and the fear in egypt is that there is danger that freedoms that were about to be won are being reversed. that the constitution does not guaranty for example the rights of women as strongly as it should, the rights of minorities as strongly as it should and the muslim brotherhood is not committed to a truly democrat tick freedom for egypt. >> the only responsive, the egyptian people will not have anymore dictatorship. i guarranty that. we know what it takes to put down a tyrant. woo we will do it again if we have to. this is the guaranty for the future. at the same time i would ask the people, i ask the world to respect the choice of the
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egyptian people. they selected president morsi as the president-elected. they voted for the constitution. the challenge is, i guess will come into the implementation. and as i mentioned in my introductory response to your first question is, i think the democratic value we have to work on. early this morning, we were in a session and mr. blair mentioned that the biggest challenge in democracy, how the majority will treat the minority. and that is the case. that is the case in egypt. we really need to adopt this, inherited to really accommodate the needs of the minority. not winning an election doesn't mean you can take up everything but these things will come with time. >> prime minister, i want to elaborate on your comment. you think in the arab spring the crucial issue is the economy, the economic system needs to be able to generate jobs. >> before answering this
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question, if you may say, today, we're all talking about democracy, freedom, transparency, governments, enhanced role for women. what are the meanings? this is a long process. and we can not do it overnight. we can not do it by one revolution or one season or one spring season. it is an evolving process and we have to achieve this when we have the right culture. that is what i believe. definitely the economy is very important to create jobs and to create the right environment is the most important. how we can create this environment today with this kind of unstability, we need political stability. we need peace. we have struggle between the palestinians and israelis and egypt. we have to talk about it and be very frank to see how we can get to the end of this.
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for this reason, yes, frankly speaking i'm not very optimistic about all today. if i ask anyone what you want me to talk to about, talk about democracy, freedom, transparency, governments, rulers. let us work for this and this is very important. >> let me ask --, let me ask someone who has worked with some of these institutions under the most ex-rd nary conditions. you have helped functioning institution in the west bank. you created an economy that created extraordinary growth over the last three years and you've done it under very adverse circumstances. so what would be your advice to people trying to build these institutions? >> thank you.
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honestly i continue to the effort help the institutions not just myself and to get ready for the emergence of fully independent and state of palestine under the oak pages of israel since 1967. that was really the focus of the program which i'm associated but this is important to the question that you raise. extreme importance on having a functional institutions of government. and i think the challenge that faces all of us in other words is that insure we have functional governments. in fact i myself believe what happened, the phenomenon known as arab spring, arab a waking, what have you, to my way of looking at things is more in the nature of evolution than anything else and that is
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adds to the challenge that all of us face because we've been affected by it to varying degrees. how to manage expectations if this is a revolution. how will the people of arab world can be accepting of this only you can wait on us, can we do better. that is serious challenge. this is what they have -- [inaudible] people have the right to expect dramatic changes. the particularly give the backdrop against which that awakening happened. i think the jury is still out on this. yet to deliver when in terms of the extent which we're going to success full. for it to be, to be given the chance but that has to be analyzed in terms of what the nature of that arab awakening was about. what was the response to democracy deficit or functional democracy deficit? if so how do we find that?
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democracy in the world that it is practiced, there seems to be adequate elsewhere in the world or, democracy that is understood to really be more consistent with the region's understanding of a real world moral standard of governments. something in the response to needs of people. about the importance of functionalty of governments. i think that is really a key challenge for all of us. the extent to which we're successful coming up with functional institutions would help all of us in the arab world to be convinced of the capacity of the goes to be responsive to the need of their people and therefore to manage expectations. this is the political side of us. this can not be separated from jobs, from the government function. unless this effort underpinned by recovery and quickly, the whole arab
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spring or arab awakening will be discredited because ultimately it is about jobs. numerous challenges that faces all of us in the world is higher and rising unemployment. unemployment is going to rise even further given the very high degree of uncertainty. arab spring, high degree of instability. the situation, particularly in syria continues to be tragically, it has been going on and until that is really settled in some fashion, it is going to be extremely difficult can for us to be talking about the afterwards of arab spring. it is very important for us to be taken into consideration. the governments of the region want to be give the ability to carry out the economic promises that are geared to engineering economic recovery, creating jobs and overall, to really advance the issue of fiscal
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imbalance. or do we expect the governments of the transformation, to embark on a tight fiscal policy stance to make it extremely difficult for them to create jobs and under conditions that are extremely, not so conducive to the private sector to come in and invest and help creating jobs. these are the important challenges. so the process i think is, is both domestically and terms of govern and dealing with the aftermath of the arab awaking their capacity to create functional institutions is on one hand and on the other hand how the world will view these countries. how the international financial institutions are going to view these countries. are they going to say you have to do deficit spending over here, which by definition is going to be mean higher and lower unemployment or is it going to be the a different kind
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of understanding. our challenge in palestine are these plus of course we have to operate or have to contend with a continued occupation. these are important challenges to deal with under any conditions to add to that the changes that have come with the occupation, make it more difficult for us. >> prime minister of libya, you face what seems to be outside world and even more dramatic set of challenges, the basic function of a government is to control the territory that it claims to govern. and many people look at libya and wonder whether the government of libya is actually in charge of all of libya? because if the role of tribes, because of the role of al qaeda-affiliated groups, how much instability is there in libya and how
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soon do you think the government will have that basic element of governance which is the ability to say we are actually in control of this entire country? >> translator: when it comes to the level of stability in libya i would like to assure you that there is a reasonable effort at stability compared to when the war was still ongoing. life continues at a normal pace when it comes to services, for example in the major cities. the markets are open. the hospitals are functional. there are services which are getting better and better every day. there are some security problems from time to time. these are cultural events at certain times at certain places but these events are dealt with when the government intervenes to solve the problems and deal
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with the revolutionaris. when it comes to the issue whether we control the whole country, yes, we do. the head of the national -- a few days ago made sure i visited the border with algeria. these are very far-off places. they're isolated and can be assumed that we are targeted there but we were able to move around quite freely and safely. one of the problems in libya is that, at a certain time the borders were wide open and we were only able to control our borders at relatively late time. so some elements came through the borders at certain times. we're now closing borders. the there are now only three
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nationalities who can enenter libya without visas. tune niche shuns, turkish citizens and jordanians. other than that people of all other nationalities require visa to enter libya. to try to avoid security problems so what i'm trying to telling you that people have normal lives, there is relative stability. but if in the middle of the night certain event somewhere that's a different thing. what happened in benghazi, i think there was exaggeration on behalf of the some countries who took some preventative measures and we can understand that. they asked the citizens to leave but the reality is these people of foreign nationality live very peacefully in libya and
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there are security measures to protect them. >> do you have a al qaeda presence in libya? >> translator: it is said that that is so. the, there are some islamists whose beliefs are close to those of al qaeda. but, the reports we received from our security apparatus showed that there are a few people who have come to be known affiliated with al qaeda but there are not many. it is not really a fam none none as we -- phenomenon. as we shall say. we can not say al qaeda has a true presence in libya. >> you do not believe the attack on the american consulate in benghazi was an attack by al qaeda? >> translator: the matter is still being investigated.
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we have not received any, we have not reached any final conclusions yet in this investigation. we have to talk to all of the witnesses and all the accused and then we will draw conclusions. however everything being said now is really just guesses. >> let me ask you, sir, in morocco, do you expect a reform process much like the jordanian reform process in which there will be elections in which there will be a elections and reform in which you move toward a central parliamentary system with a constitutional monarchy? >> translator: i think you should have asked me this question two years ago because thanks be to god we experienced the arab spring in morocco in our own way.
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we modified the constitution in 2011. we held elections on the 25th of november, 2011. which yielded a new political map. we have an opposition party which came percent in the legislative elections and gained 107 seats. this is the first time in history a party got more than 100 seats. on the 21st of november, the new government was created which i head. the society mostly trusts the government. we have continued to work with the media. the parliament is functional and efficient. the situation in morocco is stable.
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our system is not based on a one-party system, nor on the army. we have one family which has led the country for many years and which plays a referee shall we say. his majesty the king after there were demonstrations made a very courageous declaration. he took into account the demands of the people. he invoked constitutional changes and thankfully we have economic stability in morocco. when we ask for loans we obtain them. we have lines of credit, big ones, open to us. there are many tourists who continue to visit morocco normally. political life is not always easy. there is a strong opposition. there is difficult dialogue
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sometimes. people ask themselves is this government going to remain in place for a long time or not? but we consider it to be part of the democratic president ses and thankfully things have been going well so far. and we think that the problems you mentioned are now behind us. >> there are many people who believe morocco has backtracked on some of their reforms. what do you say to that? >> translator: no, there have been no backtracks. there has been no backtracking. we are experiencing a situation similar to all the other countries which are in transition but thank fully we have stability. perhaps there has been steps backwards because there are certain people who were in place before the arab spring and perhaps it does not serve their interests at that there was an arab spring and we have to
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achieve balance in society between rich and poor, for example. in today's morocco any citizen can say anything they want. obviously there are people who do not like the new situation. and so they put pressure on the government, and this is, difficult to for the government. sometimes they try to put obstacles in tour way. however, we are committed to reforms and we want the, we want to support the current government. i'm not trying to say, that, we have no problems or there have been no attempts to undermined the stability but every time there has been a plot, a terrorist plot, it has been foiled. and in the last two years we have not witnessed any
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terrorist act. and so the problems we had, that is why i said we consider them to behind us now. and obviously we have problems related to this period but mostly we've overcome our problems. >> mr. mikati, as the prime minister of lebanon, how serious is the problem of syria spilling over into your borders? many people argue that syria will not implode, it will explode and it will explode on to lebanon, on to your country. >> or the neighborhood. >> the neighborhood but in particular for reasons you know in regard to relating to hezbollah in lebanon. how real is that danger and if it is going to happen, my question is, what are you going to do? at this point it seems it is already happening. >> there is a saying in lebanon, in time of nations change please save your head. >> what does that mean?
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>> it means we are disassociating ourself from what is going on in syria by all means. we are associating because we have a kind of a historical geographic relation with syria and now today if we take any position, really we would be more -- our lebanese society and between the lebanese citizens. we had a position to disassociate ourselves but this doesn't mean that we disassociate ourself from humanitarian issue. today we are helping and receiving syrians who are insuring for them, sheltering, medical care, schooling, food, everything. also this document mean that we don't have to put all scenarios in front of us and to see what kind of implication it will affect
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us in the future. i would love to talk about the options but before talking about options we have three questions we have to answer. one, what is going to finish in syria? how it is going to finish? and what's next? so whatever -- >> why don't you answer those two questions? they're very good ones. tell me when assad will leave. tell me what will replace him. >> so so far nobody is answering this question, believe me. and i'm always, in my discussion with all world leaders is answering, when, how and what is next. who can best? for this reason today we are taking different options depending on the answers and applying those questions. >> should the arab league put greater pressure on bashar al-assad? >> we have --
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[both talking at once]. >> you may disassociate yourself from syria but syria is not disassociating from you. you're getting thousands of refugees every week. >> we're not disassociating from humanitarian. all those we have to do the obligation and are ready to serve the syrians. >> you don't want to get involved in the politics? >> we don't want to get involved because there is no indication how it is going to finish. the that is the question. . . >> we cannot dissociate
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ourselves from what is happening in syria, and it is impacting everybody whether this is directly or indirectly. what do you do? i think, you know, the best thing is still to try to end this soon, the soon orerrer the better. -- the sooner the better. how? peacefully, as much as possible. what is next, it would be much better if we can negotiate it beforehand. and this is the philosophy of our, i mean, i see you shaking your head, but how do you do that? of course, it is very difficult. i wish we had the magic answer for that, it is difficult. but you need to talk to the key players in the region, the people that have stake in syria. you need to talk to the iranians, the russians, you need to talk, of course, to the saudis, egypt, and we need to work together so we can carve this out. this has to end. you know, everybody watch this in the news every night. it's horrible. you know?
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and it is impacting everybody. the refugees are even coming to egypt in hundreds of thousands, and we feel their pain, and we sympathize with them. but the most, and the most difficult thing is the aftermath. if this, if we don't -- >> exactly. >> if we don't design that, if we don't engineer that, there will be a real mess. this is the message we try to convey -- >> shouldn't you be doing that? you should be -- >> we are talking to them. we haven't crafted a solution yet, this is, you know, the fact of the matter is. but we are working on it. we are working with our allies and colleagues and friends in the region and outside the region to convince, you know, mr. assad that this cannot go on and to convince him that if we can negotiate a deal now, it would be better than later. and it is the best interests of everybody. and, obviously, we have not been successful until now. >> do you get the sense, many people believe that mr. assad is going to fight til the end, that
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there is a sense that the alawites feel they will be slaughtered in a post-assad situation, and so there's no reason for them to not fight to the end. >> i think if we discuss this generally, there must be a solution, there must be a way out. but i don't think we are to that stage yet, and it's unfortunate. >> prime minister faye idea, how does this -- fayyad, how does this impact on the situation? you can't dissociate yourself from it. >> we can't. there has been since 1948, and the world is most diversely affected by the events in syria. of course, before then, syrian population. but to have palestinians endure having to emigrate time and
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again to find themselves lebanese refugee camps in lebanon is absolutely devastating. we have tried desperately to keep residents out of that conflict, but that was not completely successful. resulting in additional tragedy. as i said in my earlier remarks, difficult for me to think past arab spring or arab awakening the way syria has been going. ever so tragically. but i go back to, you know, what it is that needs to be dope to really -- to be done to really give this phenomenon some credibility which i think is important given the overall values that this phenomenon was supposed to respond to. i think it would be a complete travesty at the end of the day, after all is said and done, people in the region would find themselves having to make a choice between either having
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stable government or democratic government. i think that would be a travesty. and i think governments now in power have a special responsibility in assuring that will not happen. this phenomenon happened in response to citizens in the arab world feeling that they were not enfranchised, they were not really getting the rights that other citizens around the world got from their governments. the respect that the citizens should get from their government. and i think it is between, on the one hand, the need to find just enough space for governments to function while at the same time giving them the room to, once again, get the economy to begin to move again, something which is not really easy under cps of continued -- under conditions of continued conflict in syria and violence. and with the arab spring itself not having settled down completely. and all of us have been affected by this directly or otherwise to
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varying degrees. and i think that balance can be found in government being very serious about and truthful to the principles that brought them to government when it comes to political reform. i think when it comes to questions of equality, for example, an approach that's half baked toward that objective is just simply not credible, is going to discredit political reform. so i think on issues of political reform, governments must really be forthcoming, must be progressive and true to the values that brought them, that they say that brought them to government. they should be striving to create institutions that are responsive to people's needs in a fair and equitable fashion. i think it's about time for governments to be extremely progressive in dealing with rights of women, for example. there's no justification whatsoever for this to be if only you give us more time, and similarly, youth issues. they cannot continue to be overlooked and give us more time. i think governments are
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forthcoming on those issues. then they really can buy the right, just enough time to begin to engineer and generate some recovery. because political reform is going to suffer badly if the economic side does not move. and the economic side is not going to move under conditions of turmoil. >> let me ask you, prime minister, there are a number of egyptian women who have told me that they believe the situation of women in egypt today is worse than it was under mubarak. >> well, i'm not sure, you know, but i have five daughters myself, and my wife, so i don't think they agree to that. >> well, they would probably -- they're doing fine. [laughter] they're living in the prime minister's house. my friends are not. >> no, i mean -- >> there is a feeling that in egypt there has not been much progress on women's rights, and there has been a rise of a populism that has been quite -- >> no, no. >> -- sexist and --
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>> no, let me explain that. it is clear that some voices that want to limit the freedom of women, that's clear. but that is, that's the name of the game. people can speak out their, you know, their thoughts and their words, you know, right now. but it is the focus, you know, we had this guy that was aired out in tv that he wanted to put down the sphinx because people used to worship them. so he said let us put them down, you know? you can always find the crazy people, one person in the street. you don't give them a half an hour tv, you know, time to speak about that and think this is a phenomenal in egypt. >> we don't ever have that in america, just so you e know. [laughter] >> well, we had this. so what i'm saying is, of course, there are people that letting women down, you know, there's a group of people who would do that, but it's not the mainstream of egyptian people. the mainstream of egyptian people respect women, you know, and that was in the preamble of
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the constitution, that women are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. and if you read the egyptian constitution, it talks about persons afterwards. so at the preamble it talks about women, the importance of women, and then it talks about egyptian. it doesn't talk about their sex or religion or sex. it continues talking about egyptians as persons. so that's the whole thing. >> when you wanted to say something? >> [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: i believe that the west must be aware of something. now, after the revolution the west wanted to deal with arab regimes that were similar to his own regime, similar to his own situation. they thought that the situation would be similar to what they had in the west. however, the people in the arab world don't want that. they want respect for their own specificities, they have their own conditions and their own contexts. what do we want as arab people? we don't want women to ware the
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veil -- wear the veil to remove the veil, we don't want to force them to wear the veil. we don't want to force anybody to do anything. now, of course, we are witnessing this movement and this transformation in our society, and we have some people who might force their wives or their daughters to wear the veil or to remove the veil. however, this is not the opinion of the mainstream of the population of our countries, of the majority of the population. we don't want anybody to impose anything about us, to impose anything on us. we want our own way of life. we want to be able to change the past conditions, the past situation. we want to change that lack of freedom, that lack of democracy, that lack of opennesses that we had in the past, and we want the west to accept us as we are. we want them to accept our specificities. we are not western countries, we are arab countries. we have muslims, we have christians, and we have jews who live in our countries, and we have all lived in peace in the
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past. now, we still have jews living in morocco, and they are a minority, and they enjoy their full liberties, their full freedoms, and they are respected by the population, by the muslims in the country. we have women who wear the veil and women who do not wear the veil. however, what we ask of each citizen is to respect the law, and i think that you and the rest must take care and must beware of that. another issue, it's about syria -- >> no, let's talk about the women's issue, because it's an important one. this is not, first of all, nobody in the west is trying to get women to take their veils off. the issue as described in the arab development report written by an arab woman is that there are three great deficits in the arab world x the third one -- and the third one is the rights of women. this is written by an arab about the arab world with enormous amounts of data. by any comparison with the rest of the world, the status of women in the arab world is poor.
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so, you know, i think part of solving the problem and dealing with it is to acknowledge that it exists. my own humble suggestion would be that you can make this into an anti-western crusade, but the truth of the matter is the women in the arab world deserve better. [applause] [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: but i have not, i have not blamed the west. i have not blamed the west, and i don't know why you applaud. usually you will applaud morocco, and we hold elections and applaud in morocco, not here in davos. [applause] i have not said that the west is to blame, i said that the west wants us to be at its image, to be similar to it. but do you deny that you have supported ben ali? ben ali who has denied the tunisian women the right to wear
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the veil? can you deny that in the west? you cannot deny that. so let us speak in all honesty. you talk about freedom, and we talk about freedom, and it's the same freedom. you talk about democracy, and we also accept this democracy. but if you talk about democracy and one has to be democratic and then we hold elections and we have muslim parties who govern us, you say we don't like your democracy. [applause] we are people who have a say who express themselves, who vote and who have taken the initiative and who wanted to be at good terms with the west. we want to develop our relations with the west. we want to develop economic relations with the west, and we belief that the west can help us. we believe that the west has it and carries part of the responsibility for the situation in syria, and we also carry a part of the responsibility for the situation in syria. however, we think that we need to find a solution to the situation in syria, and we need to find a different president in syria.
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and we all have our share of responsibilities here. now, if you talk about this before, this human development report and this report written by a woman, we have 50 million women living in the arab world, and they are, some of them are happy with the situation, some of them are not happy with the situation, some of them have written reports, others have not written reports. however, they all have a will, and we must respect their will. they don't want anything to be imposed on them. they want to enjoy their freedom, and they want their freedom to be respected by others. they want, they don't want to be forced to do anything, they don't want anything to be imposed on them, and i believe that trying to impose anything on them would have negative repercussions on us all. [applause] >> they are now applauding for you. >> good. [laughter] >> they're now applauding for you. mr. benz can. >> it's only because normal because i'm a leader in my
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country. it's only normal that they applaud. [laughter] >> but they used to applaud for ben ali, too, so be careful. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> translator: there is no harm in applauding. i don't think that any applause could create leaders. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: it seems that, it seems that you have a little bit ignored me. i would like to say that the arab spring happened because of to presentation that was taken -- the oppression that was taking place by arab leaders in the past. this is something that is well known, and we have to admit that we did not enjoy our public and our freedoms. it is true that women did not enjoy their rights, and this is something very important that we must to acknowledge, that we must acknowledge from the very beginning. our societies need to re-examine
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a number of issues. i'm not talking here about sharia, i'm not talking about islam, i'm talking about a number of practices that were taking place in our countries, practices against women, against human rights, practices against journalism, against the press that -- practices that were taking place in our countries and that must end. we now talk about democracy, and i believe that democracy cannot prevail if we do not respect human rights, if we do not respect the rights of women, if we do not respect public freedom, and if we do not provide the environment that is conducive for development, that is conducive for education. we also must insure economic development and political progress, political development. these things and these principles are very important, and this is why the arab spring took place at the end of the day. and i believe that such principles are still not
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respected in our countries, such freedoms are not yet respected. we still have a long way to go. regardless of what the west thinks or does not think, we don't really -- we should not really mind what the west says. the west can speak and say, and we also can speak and say whatever we think. however, i believe that the reform process must start from us, must start from the arab world. so that we would bring back the human dignity to each citizen. we must respect individuals, and we must not force any citizen to do anything that he or she does not want to do. i believe that it's the arab spring happened because of the oppression that we were living under. that oppression took away our freedoms, our liberties, our human rights, and that is why i believe that we need this revolution, we needed this revolution, and we need reforms. now, the arab wrap spring -- arab spring, we still don't know exactly what the root causes of the arab spring happened so that we can find solutions to those
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root causes. we need to have, we need to examine the situation, we need to find a jurisprudence for this arab spring. we need to understand why it happened. we need to put in place a number of principles, the principles that relate to the respect of human rights, to economic and political development, to the development of our rural areas of our desert areas and of all remote areas in our country. we need to respect democracy, and we need to insure that we are capable of building institutions and of building a tate that -- a state that is governed by the rule of law and by laws and by democracy. a democracy that must be clear, a democracy that is based on the separation of powers and on a tree and independent judiciary. it is this way that we must examine the arab spring. it is this way that we must try to solve our problems.
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>> i'm going to have to hold all of you because we have to go to the audience to take a few questions. as i said, if you can make sure that they are actual questions with. ken roth. >> the moroccan prime minister said the people were free to say anything they want in morocco, and the egyptian prime minister said that while i'm here to respect the choice of the people, that that government must operate within limits of rights. those are very good statements, but each of your governments has used criminal defamation to suppress dissent. morocco just this week is prosecuting a journalist, in egypt there has been just an explosion of criminal defamation prosecutions under the current government. would you both commit your governments to repealing criminal defamation as a violation of freedom of expression? [applause] >> why don't you go first, mr.--
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>> well, my friend, there is, i mean, i hope you -- we put a law to protect the prime ministers. i've been pounded by, by sometimes unfair and lies that, i mean, lately they put my name that they said that i mentioned we have, we need to claim our rights in the lands of libya. never said such a thing. that could have created problems not just for our relationship, but for under, you know, risk the lives of the egyptians living in libya. you know, i think the freedom of speech doesn't mean that you go wild. however, you know, we realize that this is a transitional period, and we understand these things, so we welcome them, we talk to them and personally i've never pushed through on this, therefore, the things that were said wrongly eau more -- on me or my people. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: i don't know if there have been cases of defamation in morocco too.
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can you provide me with more information? what problems happened in morocco? >> the gentleman, can you stand up very quickly? this is the head of human rights watch, so i imagine he actually could provide you with a great deal of documentation. [laughter] >> i mean, just three days ago there was a journalist, georgia breel, who was prosecuted. there's a big movement in morocco to repeal criminal defamation. people can still be sued civilly for defamation if they defame someone, but to prosecute somebody criminally is a penalty that is widely considered to violate international freedom of expression. both of your governments are making regular use of criminal defamation prosecutions, and i'm asking whether you'd commit to stop that. >> let's make some news here at davos. commit to repealing this. [laughter] [speaking in native tongue] [laughter]
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>> after, after, we are going to. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: can i -- can i respond, please? >> quickly. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: i think that in this shows that things are excellent in morocco, because only one year after the elections which were held on the 29th of november, if there was only one trial three days ago for someone who engaged in defamation, then i think that that shows that there have been no violations of the law in morocco and when it comes to the media compared to how things were a few years ago in morocco and in other countries, you'll see the difference. do you want us to move forward? do you want us to become switzerland in one day? i'll tell you, that's impossible. we have a law, and, for example,
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our laws say that you cannot say anything bad about the king. that's our law. [laughter] this is the way things are in our country. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: you can criticize the prime minister all you want, all day. >> i'll speak less than a minute. i was in morocco for the -- [inaudible] i read the papers by force of habit. every day there were front page stories of corruption. is it the case that now corruption is more freely reported and was suppressed later, or did it decrease under -- [laughter] >> no, no, no. you've got one question, thank you. very quickly on corruption. [speaking in native tongue]
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>> translator: there has been no report of corruption when it comes to myself or my government. but it's true, there are things that are written and said about corruption. some of what is said and written is true. and what is true is followed up on in one way or another. but then there are other things that are not true and, obviously, cannot be followed up because they're not true and just because a newspaper writes something doesn't mean that it's true and we have to follow it up. we are committed to respecting the law. i recognize that there are some people who have enjoyed impunity so far. however, if these people continue, then one day they will have to face justice. >> all right. one last question over here. yeah. >> thank you. i'm -- [inaudible] from libya. i would like to comment and raise a quick question.
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>> no, no comment. just a question. >> okay. just a quick question. whati've witnessed the debate t, and -- >> a question. really, otherwise we're going to move, there's a gentleman there -- >> okay. the question is do you think the debate has moved us from the core issues that were pertinent two years ago which was youth unemployment and dignity? and we've moved to a spectrum where i think we have retracted back to what was the debate -- >> okay, i get you. this is not a question. sir, why don't you ask your question. i'm sorry. it's not respectful to the rest of the audience. >> just a question, actually, to both the ministers, prime ministers of libya and egypt. one of the reasons we've had the uprisings, it was basically the corruption that's been mentioned plus the economic inequality. now, what a lot of people are saying specifically in those two countries -- because those things have happened payoff the uprising -- is that the old blocs on the sort of all the
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kids on the block have been replaced by the new kids on the blocks, and so the elitists are still benefiting like the oldest ones were. >> there's definitely a change. i mean, i'll tell you i know that by heart that the people in charge are not, are not corrupted, and i refuse that you say such a thing. and i, actually, i would ask you to apologize for that because people are working night and day for the best interests of the committee. the big change is now the people, the work, whatever they do come to them not like the other old neighbor, i mean, the old kids on the block or the old way of doing things or benefiting small group of people. things have changed tremendously. but what you have left on, you know, the big burden of economic, you know, problems, due to the previous corruption is what's hinterring, you know, our ability to achieve the aspiration of the egyptian people and, i trust, in other countries as well.
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>> mr. benz dean, part of the argument is, i think, that the state still controls large parts of the economy. speak speak talk about -- [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: the revolutions were carried out because of corruption, and i can't say that corruption just disappeared overnight. perhaps there is corruption, maybe there will still be corruption in the future, but one of the goals of the revolution is to change mentalities. and to change certain practices that were in place after 42 years of a regime which worked to destroy people. we are trying to change all of that. but we can't change things overnight, especially not mentalities after all these years. >> ma'am in the -- last question to you. yes. a very quick -- yeah.
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>> not only a function of what government or the people in the region wallet. it's a very strategic region, and we know how much interference there were from the rest of the world. i would like to hear the reading of the various excellencies, the prime ministers of what are the geopolitical interests and what's their effect on -- >> it's a wonderful question, but we'll have to leave it for another time because we have two minutes. i want to close, unfortunately, we have to close, by just saying, you know, for those of you who have followed what i've written or said on television, i have been optimistic about the arab spring, and i persist in being optimistic by just pointing out the nature of this panel and the nature of this conversation. that we have had. imagine if two years ago you had had a panel with the head of the libyan government, the head of the egyptian government -- [laughter] the remember needs and the -- the lebanese and the palestinians would have been the same, articulate, and in
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morocco. i think the fact that we can have this kind of an open, honest conversation about all these issues is a sign of progress. it doesn't mean that these goals have been reached -- >> why you have forgot no rock coon? >> i did not forget morocco. [laughter] because you acted so fast in your reform process, i think that two years ago maybe you would have been here. [laughter] and so i was being careful. [laughter] but i think that itself gives one a great deal of hope, and i want to on that note ask that you all give these gentlemen a wonderful round of applause. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> the senate is gaveling in at 2 eastern this afternoon. at 5:30 senators plan to vote on the final hurricane sandy relief package. and another vote tomorrow on the confirmation of massachusetts senator john kerry to be the next secretary of state. as always, the senate is live here on c-span2. off the floor a bipartisan group of senators today will unveil immigration proposals. those senators scheduled a news conference for 2:30 eastern. live coverage over on c-span. this comes a day before president obama speaks about immigration policies in las vegas. and there are three new members of the indiana delegation serving in the 113th congress. in the senate democrat joe donnelly replaces republican diking lugar. -- dick lieu bar. -- lugar. he also formerly served in the
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u.s. house. two new house members, republican susan brooks is a former u.s. attorney for the southern district of indiana. she takes the seat of fellow republican dan burton who retired after 15 terms. and republican luke messerrer who was a member of the statehouse and head of indiana's republican party. >> we created a platform that we call a digital health feedback system, and the main components of that platform are an ingestible sensor that turns on when you swallow it and communicates to your body. it sends information to a wearable patch that you wear on your torso and collects information about the medicines you swallow and your physiology, things like your heart rate, your respiration, your body angle, activity, sleep, temperature. quite a lot of things, actually, what we call a panel of fizz logic wellness methods, and then it communicates via bluetooth radio with a cell phone that you carry and enables us to take that data to the cloud, process
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it and send it back to you as an application that can help you manage your own help. >> you know, malcolm gladwell calls it the tipping point. we've had these amazing changes over the last five years, and now we're really poised to really make some great leaps in these complex diseases. our understanding of cancer, for instance, the last five years has dwarfed the last 25, and the next ten years will really take us into some amazing advances. >> the latest developments in health technology from this year's ces international consumer electronics show tonight on "the communicators" at 8 eastern on c-span2. >> now remarks by wisconsin congressman and 2012 republican vice president nominee paul ryan. he talks about the future of the republican party. representative ryan spoke saturday at a conference hosted by the national review institute. this is about 25 minutes.
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>> all right, ladies and gentlemen, we are about to hear from our next speaker who is congressman paul ryan. [applause] when congressman ryan was picked as mitt romney's running mate last year, he became a subject of fascination. everything about him, extending even to his workout routine which is the p90x workout routine. and for those of you who aren't fit enough to have a workout routine, it sounds like it's some advanced piece of military weaponry -- [laughter] or if you happen not to work out an hour every day before breakfast, the p90x, from what i understand, involves this whole theory is you confuse your muscles, as they call it, by constantly trying a new and
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different workout every day. and we have evidence that paul ryan is very loyal to this workout regime because, actually, his most innovative workout has been caught on tape and broadcast very broadly. i'm sure you've seen it. it involves running through woods, pushing old ladies in wheelchairs -- [laughter] off of cliffs. [laughter] and if you think about it, this is just a tremendous workout, because -- [laughter] as you're pushing the wheelchair, i mean, that's a lot of effort. it gets the legs, it gets the legs really good, and you're running, so cardio is there. and then, this is a key thing, depending on your technique of pushing the wheelchair off the cliff, it can involve the tris too. [laughter] so you get the arms as well. i hope i'm not betraying any confidences when i say the chapter and republican policy in politics has been authored by paul ryan over the last few
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years -- as authored by paul ryan over the last few years began on a bow hunt. now, i'm from new york city, so i may be messing this up, but as far as i understand, bow hunting involves sitting alone in a damn tree all day long and waiting for a deer or an elderly person to wander by -- [laughter] and then you shoot, shoot to kill. and my understanding, paul was up alone in a tree one day, i assume bored out of his ever-living mind, and it occurred to him if he was going to continue to be in the washington, the to continue to be a congressman, he really had to make it count. and he came back here, he wrote his road map. there are about one or two other people who dared cosponsor it. this was taken as a sign they just weren't very good at politics and weren't very with it. but then within the next few years paul reoriented the entire republican party around a version of his plan and what was
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an extraordinary act of intellectual and political leadership. um, paul is an exemplary political leader, he's substantive, he's unflappable. his goal always is not to vent or to insult, although there are plenty of people we all realize need insulting, but to persuade. and he went through this entire campaign last year under tremendous pressure and never really showed, um, one moment of pique or ill temper. and we really saw his political character on display in that national debate where he faced a vice president who was determined to behave like a hi year that high on quaaludes -- hyena high on quaaludes. [applause] i think the late, great famous crocodile-wrestling naturalist steve irwin would have hesitated
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to sit down at a table for an hour and a half with the vice president, but at the end of that session, we knew which of those men had a better political character and which of those men was a better advocate for his cause. [applause] so i am, i'm absolutely certain that whatever is the solution and the answer to the right's political predicament over the next few years, paul ryan will be part of that answer and solution. he is a great friend of nr, a great advocate of our cause. please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome paul ryan. [applause] >> that was pretty good. i'll take you bow hunting someday. [laughter] hey, thanks, everybody. [applause] that's great. thanks so much. appreciate it. well, i can say about that
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introduction, that was the, um, most recent introduction i've ever received. [laughter] thanks, rich, i appreciate it. you know, i'm happy to see so many friends here in the audience. i just see a lot of familiar faces. and i'm honored to speak to so many distinguished guests. you know, you could say that perhaps this is the greatest collection of conservative talent ever gathered in one room with the possible exception of when the last time william f. buckley dined alone. [laughter] look, hail to "national review." i started reading buckley in college when my economics professor gave me a copy of "national review," and i've been reading it ever since. the masthead has changed. when i came to washington, many of the people writing were just starting out. they were landing their first jobs, they were writers and editors. rich lowry was a cub reporter at "roll call" and i was a young
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staffer on capitol hill when we first became friends. over time i began to recognize the bylines, and i became really enthralled with the work. i valued the counsel. so i just want to say to the "national review," thanks for 20 years of good advice. thanks for all you do. [applause] today, though, you're asking for my advice under what i guess we could just politely say under less than ideal circumstances. as you recall, there was an election last year. [laughter] it didn't go our way. and like you, i understand full well that elections have consequences. the vice president's house is just a few blocks away from here, and like you, i'm disappointed. i was looking forward to taking on the big challenges. my kids were looking forward to having a pool. [laughter] but there are two ways to respond to defeat.
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either you can deny it, or you can choose to learn from it. i choose to learn from it. the way i see it, our defeat is all the more reason to lay out our vision with even more specifics, with a broader appeal. it's going to be difficult without a partner in the white house. but i'm a glass half full kind of guy. i know we can do this. that said, we have to deal with the fact that president obama has a second term. that's the topic of my talk, of my talk today. a second term will present a lot of new challenges for our side. it will also present a lot of opportunities. and to take advantage of them, we're going to need something that we occasionally overlook. we will need prudence. i'd like to explain what that is and why we need it.
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first, the context. in the president's first term, we argued against big government in theory. in his second term, we will be arguing against big government in practice. obamacare is no longer a 2,000-page bill. now it's 13,000 pages of regulations, and it's growing. it's being implemented. this year the law will restrict our ability to use flexible spending accounts. it will even raise taxes on life-saving medical devices. and that's just health care. now that the president is implementing his agenda, we will see that the benefits are far less than advertisedded. advertised. and the costs of this agenda, they're huge. we spend a trillion dollars more than we take in each year. we can't keep that up. if we stay on this path, we will run the risk of a debt crisis. what is that? that's a moment where our
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finances collapse, our economy stalls. we will have to convince the country to change course. we have to reform entitlements. and, ultimately, we have to revisit the health care law. clearly, president obama doesn't want us to get that chance. he wants his last two years to look just like his first two years of his presidency. he wants to perpetuate progressive government for at least a generation. why? because he thinks that's the right thing to do. and to do that, he he needs to delegitimize the republican party and house republicans in particular. he'll try to divide us with phony emergencies and bogus deals. he'll try to get us to fight with each other, to question each other's motives so we don't challenge him. and if we play into his hands, we will betray the voters who supported us and the cub we
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mean -- and the country we mean to serve. we can't let that happen. we have to be smart. we have to show prudence. what do i mean when i say that? prudence is good judgment in the art of governing. abraham lincoln called it one of the cardinal virtues. and it's our greatest obligation as public servants. we have to find the good in every situation and choose the best means to achieve it. we have to make decisions anchored in reality and take responsibility for the consequences. you know, the prudent man is like a captain at sea. he doesn't curse the wind, he uses it to reach his destination. i'm not saying that we should be excessively cautious. what i am saying is that when we see an opening, however small, we should take it. if we want to promote conservativism, we'll need to use every tool at our disposal.
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sometimes we will have to reject the president's proposals. that time might come more than once. [laughter] and sometimes we'll have to make them better. the president will bait us. he will portray us as cruel and unyielding. just the other day he said that republicans are suspicious about social security. he said that we have suspicions about feeding hungry children, that we have suspicions about caring for the elderly. look, it's the same trick every time; fight a straw man, avoid honest debate and win the argument by default. the way he tells us, it's the president and only the president who's trying to fix our bridges, to feed our chirp, to care for our -- to feed our children, to care for our seniors, to clean our water. frankly, he must be exhausted. [laughter] i know we are. but we can't get rattled. we won't play the villain in many his morality plays.
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we have to stay united. we have to show that if given the chance we can govern, that we have better ideas. you know, the fact is we are not in the wilderness. republicans control both the house and most of the statehouses. so we have to oppose the president in the senate on some fronts, and we have to engage him on others. because we can't let our country have a debt rye sis. -- crisis. and if they won't help fix our debt crisis, we have to buy time. we have to keep the bond markets at stake for the sake of our people. that means we'll face some tough moments. like the fiscal cliff. you know, i know we all didn't see eye to eye on that vote. here's how i saw it. on january 1 the senate voted
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overwhelmingly to prevent tax hikes on 98% of americans. it made the lower tax rates permanent. that's something we couldn't achieve when george bush was in office. and president obama got less revenue than the speaker offered in the first place. in short, there was no way we were going to get a better deal for the american taxpayer. that's not to hide the fact that this bill was far from perfect. we wanted to keep tax rates low for everybody. we wanted to cut spending. but this bill had to pass. otherwise every single taxpayer would have paid much higher taxes, and our economy would have gone into a nose dive. once i came to that conclusion, the decision was simple. if you think a bill has to pass, then you vote for it. now, many of my colleagues voted the other way, and i completely respect their decision. prudence demands mutual understanding, especially among friends. my colleagues and i sought the same thing, and we sought the same end. we wanted a smaller, smarter
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government. we simply differed on the means. that's the difficulty of governing. it shouldn't be a cause for key vision. you see -- for division. you see, our tactics will vary from issue to issue, but our strategy will remain the same. we will promote conservativism at every opportunity. you know, in the next four years opportunity won't come easily. the latest comes with the challenge. we have to pay our bills today, and we have to make sure that we can pay our bills tomorrow. and to do that, we need to cut spending, and we need to budget responsibly. you know, our job as we see it is to help the country prevent a debt crisis. every family sets a budget. every business budgets. the federal government should do the same thing. in fact, it's the law that we pass a budget. the house has done its job. the senate hasn't passed a budget in nearly four years. that is gross irresponsibility.
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that's unacceptable. that has to change. [applause] now, the house won't consider another debt ceiling increase unless the senate passes a budget. and we're not going to just keep raising the debt ceiling. we're going to make a down payment on debt reduction, and we're going to point the country in the right direction, we're going to cut spending. [applause] you know, there will be times p when conservatives disagree on the way forward. we've never marched in lockstep. that's not what we do. a healthy debate is a good and needed thing. we can deliberate in private without fighting in public. all we should ask of each other is that we give an honest account of our actions and their reasons for them. we should challenge the left, not each other. and if we take the prudent course, you know what? we'll be in really good company.
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our founders were men of prudence. take james madison. nowadays we call him the founder, the father of the constitution. but at the constitutional convention, he lost some key arguments. you know, he fought the plan to give each state the same number of seats in the senate. he thought it was deeply unjust. and at first he wants -- he wanted congress to be able to veto state laws n. both cases madison argued vigorously for his side, and in both cases he lost that argument. but when it came time to ratify the constitution, there was no greater advocate than james madison. he helped write the editorials in support of the document. we call that the federalist pape ors. and he led -- papers. and he led the charge for approval at the virginia state convention. and he paid a price for his support. when he ran for congress, his political adversaries drafted james monroe to run against him. this was the 18th century
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equivalent of getting primaried. [laughter] but madison decided that for all its imperfections, he would support the constitution because it would save the union. and today we are the living beneficiaries of madison's prudence. so what's the next step for us? where do we go from here? i'd say we have two roles in the president's second term. number one, to mitigate bad policy. number two, to advance good policy wherever we can. on the first point, and this is something that we in the house have to take very seriously, we have got to stop the growth of the administrative state. executive departments and agencies, they've become, basically, a fourth branch of government in the recent years. they combine all three functions of government, executive, legislative, judicial, in one arbitrary sweep, and the people suffer the consequences. this is not government by concept of the governed. and the house must keep watch over these departments and keep them in line. that's what good oversight does,
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that's the responsibility we have to you, our cop stitch wents and the more than people -- constituents and the american people. [applause] on the second point, we have to offer an alternative. we can't leave the democrats to their own devices because they seem to have a pretty short memory. obamacare imposed over 20 different tax increases at a cost of over a trillion dollars. earlier this month tax rates went up further. but the democrats are already calling for higherrer taxes again. -- higher taxes again. as our house and senate leaders have said, we are not raising taxes. but we have no desire to be tax collectors for a welfare state. we have to focus on the real problem, and the real problem is spending. but we can't just respond to the democrats' proposals. we have to offer our own, and that's exactly what we're going to do. this session i'll advance reforms to protect and
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strengthen medicare and medicaid, to reform health care. dave camp, chairman of the house ways and means committee, he will advance a tax reform effort, and we will propose a budget that will balance and pay down the debt. guess what? the democrats are unlikely to accept our proposals. i know that may come as a surprise to you. [laughter] they refuse to consider the real reform that's needed to get the country on the right track. but we will lay the groundwork for future endeavors so when reform is possible, we will be ready. that's our obligation. washington may be getting all the anticipation these days, but i gotta tell you, that's only because it's broken. today the front lines of reform are in the states. that's where republicans will see their greatest success. thanks to governors like my governor, scott walker, bobby jindal, susana martinez, chris christie, bob mcdonnell -- ms. -- [applause] these governors deserve our thanks because they're the
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models for all of us. they work across the aisle whenever possible, they balance their budgets. i can't wait to see what they're going to accomplish this year. you know, as you take stock in all of this, the horizon before us might seem kind of narrow right now, but believe me, it's going to grow. as the president implements his agenda, the results will fall far short of the rhetoric, and they won't be pretty. and we will have tepid growth in deficits, health care price controls and rationing, and at that moment we will be ready. we will offer an alternative visioning. we will explain how our vision differs, how it rests on vibrant communities, how it increases social mobility, upward mobility. we will show how we can govern better by governing closer to the people, by strengthening our families and their livelihoods. and we will make clear that we have better ideas to combat poverty. our policies will lift everyone
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in this country. we will translate that vision into a governing agenda. we will apply our nation's timeless principles to the challenges of the day. that's how you offer end during solutions. enduring solutions. we will say to the country, here's our plan for the economy. here's our plan for the budget. here's our plan for health care. here's our plan for energy. here's our plan for defense. and when we do that, when we put our plans out against the president's actual results, i think we'll compare quite favorably. we will win back the trust of the american people. and we will put our plans into action. that's what you do in moments like this. you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off, you fight for what you believe in, and you get back to work. we have a lot to do in the next four years. the challenges continue to mount, and it is so easy to get discouraged by it all. the election loss, the difficulty of the change that's
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coming. but as william f. buckley, my fellow catholic would say, it's a mortal sin to despair. i'm not ready to give up. and i know you aren't either. you wouldn't be here if you were. that's why i want to ask you for your help. in this effort every conservative needs to be involved. you know, after the election i needed to take a little bit of time. [laughter] i needed, as rich said, i needed to get into the woods because that's where i recharge. so i took my daughter, liza, hunting with me in oklahoma, and she got her first deer. [applause] that's what we do where i come from. [laughter] i know people like rich can't relate to that. [laughter] but i realized sitting next to her talking to her in the woods, walking her through the moment just how quickly she was growing up. and it got me thinking. when i'm old and gray and my
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grandkids ask me about this moment, i don't want to tell them how america lost its way. i don't want to say, hey, don't blame me, i didn't want vote for any of it. instead, i want to tell them how america got back on track. i want to look at them and say, yeah, it was really tough, but it was worth it. our cup is worth the fight. our country is worth the fight. and with your help and with a touch of prudence, we will win it. thank you very much, everybody, and is have a great morning. thank you. [applause] thanks. thank you very much. [applause] appreciate it. ♪ ♪ >> if we turn away from the needs of others, we align
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ourself os with those -- ourselves with those forces which are bringing about this suffering. >> the white house is a bully pulpit, and you ought to take advantage of it. >> obesity in this country is nothing short short of a public health crisis. >> i think i just had little antennas that went up and told me when somebody had their own agenda. >> so much influence in that office, it'd be just a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief's confidant. she's really, in a way, the only one in the world he can trust. >> many of the women who were first ladies, they were writers, a lot of them were writers, journalists, they wrote books. >> they are in many cases, quite frankly, more entering as human beings than their husbands, if only because they are not, first and foremost, defined and consequently limited by political ambition.
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>> dolly was both socially adept and politically savvy. >> dolly madison loved every minute of it. mrs. monroe hated it. absolutely hated it. >> she warped her husband, you know -- she warned her husband, you know, you can't rule without including what women want and what women have to contribute. >> and during the statement you were a little breathless, and it was too much looking down, and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. >> yes, ma'am. >> she's probably the most tragic of all of our first ladies. they never should have married. >> she later wrote in her memoir that she said i myself never made any decision. i only decided what was important and when to present it to my husband. now, you stop and think about how much power that is, it's a lot of power. >> part of the battle against
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cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease. >> she transformed the way we look at these bugaboos and made it possible for countless people to survive and to flourish as a result. i don't know how many presidents realistically have that kind of impact on the way we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded about all of the people who have lived there before and particularly all of the women. >> the first ladies, their private and public lives. c-span's teaming up with the white house his -- historical association. "first ladies: influence and image," airing over two seasons. season one begins presidents' day at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span, c-span radio
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and >> the senate is coming in. this afternoon at about 4:30 debate on hurricane sandy relief package. and votes on amendments and final passage expected at 5:30. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order.
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the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, lord of our lives. your mighty power provides us with strength for today and bright hopes for tomorrow. bring your wisdom and order into this legislative chamber today, sustaining our lawmakers with the knowledge of your abiding providence. lord, release them from the tightly-wound springs of pressure and stress through their daily communion with you. keep your hand upon our senators, dear lord, to uphold
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and guide them along the pathway of life. strengthen them to think clearly, serve creatively and endure consistently. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding off icer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., january 28, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tim kaine, a senator from the commonwealth of virginia,
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to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the chair recognizes the senator from nevada. mr. reid: following leader remarks the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:30. during that period of time senators will be permitted to speak up to ten minutes each. at 4:30 the senate will begin consideration of the hurricane sandy emergency supplemental. at 5:30 there will be at least two roll call votes. the first vote is expected to be in relation to the lee amendment to h.r. 152 and the second vote will be passage of h.r. 152. mr. president, there are seven bills at the desk due for a second readings. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the titles of the bills. the clerk: s. 47, a bill to reauthorize the violence against women act of 1994. h.r. 152, an act making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2013, and so forth and for other purposes. s. 81, a bill to provide
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guidance and priorities for federal government obligations in the event that the debt limit is reached. s. 82, a bill to provide that any executive action infringing on the second amendment has no force or effect and to prohibit the use of funds for certain purposes. s. 83, a bill to provide for continuing operations of government in a fiscally responsible manner. s. 124, a bill to provide members of congress may not receive pay after october 1 of any fiscal year in which congress has not approved a concurrent resolution on the budget and passed the regular appropriations bills. h.r. 325, an act to ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of united states government until may 19, 2013, and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i would object to further proceedings with respect to these bills. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bills will be placed on the
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calendar. mr. reid: mr. president, last week after the nation celebrated the second inauguration of president obama, i expressed a hope that this congress would be characterized by a commitment to finding common ground. i'm please that had a bipartisan group of eight senators -- four democrats, four republicans -- will announce an agreement on a framework for comprehensive immigration reform as early as this afternoon. no one denies america's immigration system is broken. as i've said, this is one of the most important legislative missions congress wanted to take this year. i applaud these eight senators for setting aside partisanship and tackling a crucial issue facing our nation. this is a positive first step, but the true test for congressional leadership will be to pass a comprehensive bill. as senator from nevada who witnessed firsthand the difficulties our broken immigration system presents for immigrants and their families it is important to me personally that we resolve this issue. i will do everything in my power
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to get a bill across the finish line. nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me. president obama has already taken commendable executive action to stem deportation of upstanding young men and women brought to this country by their parents. i commend him for making immigration reform a top priority. president obama will place to the nation his own ideas during a visit to las vegas tomorrow. with bipartisan support billing in both houses of congress and a president who is eager to solve this issue, there is no reason we should not pass comprehensive immigration reform immediately. it will be good for our economy and good for families. successful immigration reform cannot be piecemeal and it must include a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented individuals in our country.
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legislation must craft a comprehensive solution that among other things continues to secure our borders, punishes unscrupulous employers who deploy immigrants. they have to learn english, work, pay taxes, stay out of trouble and then get to the back of the line; but they do obtain legal status, which is so important. the framework proposed by the bipartisan group of eight senators meets this criteria and i hope we'll soon have a bill to send through the committee process and bring to the floor for a vote. i've long said when my republican colleagues were truly ready to craft a commonsense solution that is tough, fair and practical, we stand ready to cooperate. it is good to have friends and partners in this effort. for years democrats have been eager to pass comprehensive
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immigration reform, but the republicans have been unwilling to work to find common ground. i'm glad things have changed. i am so happy to see my republican colleagues, at least some of them, finally seem ready to find a bipartisan way to correct the flaws in this nation's immigration system instead of just complaining the system is broken. would the chair announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask the call of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: during the next few weeks and months, congress and the president will again have a -- have an opportunity to demonstrate that we're serious about dealing with deficits and debt by reducing spending. we have the debt limit issue coming up, we have the fiscal cliff issue coming up by
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march 2, and we have the continuing resolution issue coming up on march 27, so those are three very real times and important times to deal with deficit and spending. the reason we need to address the federal runaway spending is obvious to everybody who has a family budget and wonders why congress can't live the same as families live, within our income, and spending is obvious because a surreal driver of our deficits and our debt. spending is the reason that we're up against the $16.2 trillion debt limit. spending was the reason that congress and president obama raised the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion just a year and a
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half ago. now, in 2006, the junior senator from illinois, senator obama, came to the floor, made a very passionate and thoughtful statement here on the senate floor in opposition to raising the debt limit. many of the reasons that he gave then are relevant today. in fact, they are even more appropriate because the national debt is much, much higher. and we have a fiscal mess. it's instructive for my colleagues to hear the words straight from then-senator obama. he delivered these remarks on march 16, 2006. at that time the senate was debating raising the debt limit by $781 billion to a new limit then that seems very small
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today, about half what it is today, raising the limit of 2006 to $8.9 trillion. so i thought it would be worth for the president's benefit as well as our benefit to go over what then-senator, now-president obama had to say, and so i'm going to quote partially from his speech. and this is from 2006, dealing debate -- -- quote -- "the fact that we are here today to debate raising america's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. it is a sign that the u.s. government can't pay its own bills. it's a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies." he goes on to say -- "over the past five years, our federal
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debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. that is trillion with a t. that is money that we have borrowed from the social security trust fund, borrowed from china and japan, borrowed from the american taxpayers. with over -- and over the next five years between now and 2011, the president's budget will increase the debt by almost $3.5 trillion." continuing to quote from senator obama in 2006, "numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. some people may wonder why they matter. here is why. this year, the federal government will spend $220 billion on interest. that is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we'll spend on medicaid and the state children's health insurance program. that is more money than we pay interest on our debt this year
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than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation and veterans' benefits combined. it's more in one year than we're likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of america. and the costs of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the federal budget." senator obama went on to say -- "this rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investment in infrastructure like bridges, ports and levies, robbing our families of critical investment in education and health care reform, robbing our seniors of stiermt health security they have counted on. every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to reinvestment in america's
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priorities. instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all americans, a debt tax that washington doesn't want to talk about. if washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies. so what he said in 2006 is still very much true today, only a worse situation and we're in a situation where he is now president of the united states and through his leadership something can be done about it. i want to continue to quote him by saying -- and this is what he said in 2006 -- "our debt also matters internationally. my friend, the ranking member of the senate budget committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of
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foreign-held debt. this administration did more than that in just five years." this administration that he refers to was the bush administration at that time, and he was legitimately finding fault with that." now there is nothing wrong with borrowing from foreign countries, he went on to say, but we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. increasing america's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. leadership means that the buck stops here. instead, washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. america has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. america deserves better."
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that's what senator obama said in 2006 that it much applies today as well. for these reasons -- that's the end of the quote. for these reasons, senator obama announced his position to oppose the effort to increase measure's debt limit in 2006. the national debt today is nearly double what it was in 2006 when president obama called it a sign of -- president obama who was then senator, called it a sign of leadership failure and hidden domestic enemy. during president obama's first four years, we have added $6 trillion to the national debt, more than was added under president bush's entire eight years. yet under president obama's recent budget, he added another $10 trillion to the debt over the next ten years. that's his plan, to add another
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$10 trillion. whatperhaps that's why when giva chance not a single democrat voted in favor of president obama's budgets. when president obama announced his vote against that debt limit increase in 2006, if we had a debt problem then and a failure of leadership in 2006, what do we have today? surely president obama after four years and $1 trillion deficits each year believes that now is the time to reduce our debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies like he stated as a senator. at more than $16 trillion, president obama must know that our national and economic security is undermined by our dependence on foreign countries to lead us -- to lend us money.
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in the summer of 2008 while on the campaign trail, senator obama made this statement when answering a question about deficits and debt. and this will be the last quote i give you, and this is not from the floor of the senate. this is from the campaign trail. he was asked about deficits and debt -- quote -- "the problem is is it the way bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out credit card from the bank of china in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first two -- for the first 42 presidents. number 42 added $4 trillion by his lonesome so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we're going to have to pay back. that's $30,000 for every man, woman and child." he ended by saying -- "that's
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irresponsible and it's unpatriotic." remember, he made these statements when annual deficits were a couple hundred billion dollars per year rather than the 1 trillioned-plus deficits each of the past four years. he made these statements when our national debt was $8 trillion to $9 trillion rather than today's $16 trillion. that's close to $50,000 for every man, woman and child, not the $30,000 when he spoke to us in 2006. so it's time for the president to acknowledge what he realized in 2006, that we have a spending problem, and when he voted against increasing the debt limit. earlier this month, the president got his campaign wish to raise taxes on the so-called wealthy even though -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired.
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mr. grassley: one additional minute, 30 second, to be exact. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: earlier this month, the president got his campaign wish to raise taxes on the so-called wealthy even though it will do next to nothing to reduce deficits, but that's done. now it's time to focus on the real driver of our deficits and debt, runaway federal spending. i look forward to working with my colleagues and hopefully with president obama over the next few months to finally take action to get our fiscal house in order. leadership means the buck stops with him. it's time to stop shifting the burden of bad choices today on the backs of our children and grandchildren. it's what americans deserve and with presidential leadership, it can be accomplished. i yield the floor.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, there are many complex issues facing pong at the moment -- facing congress at the moment,al many of which have vexed us literally for years, but one issue that demands our immediate attention is the national debt, because if we don't do something now to rein in our nation's out-of-control debt, we may never be able to put america back on a sustainable fiscal and economic path. and if that happens, then much of the other issues we face will be largely irrelevant. so we need to give this issue everything we've got and we need to start right now. we need to devote the same kind of energy to this issue that we
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have devoted to other great national threats in the past. that means serious, serious bipartisan negotiation, careful committee consideration and, yes, tough decisions on the kinds of votes that reflect them. this work will take time, and that's why i have been urging senate democrats to set the legislative gears into motion right away. last week the house passed a bill that would give us three months to work out an effective solution to the debt crisis we face. on witness day we'll take it up here in the senate. if the house bill passes here and it's signed into law, the finance committee should immediately -- immediately -- begin laying the foundations for a solution. negotiations should begin. hearings should be scheduled. and legislation should actually be marked up. try months, as you know, is not
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-- three months, as you know, is not very much time in congress, especially considering the fiscal deadlines we have to address here in the coming weeks. so let's use this additional time to develop a plan, a serious, effective, bipartisan plan, that can put the debt on a downward trajectory. let's put together a proposal that gives new confidence to the american people and our ability to work together with an eye toward improving their lives and their process expects rather than our -- prospects rather than our own. that gives new confidence to the market anmarkets and to the rats agencies that have warned us about doing nothing that doesn't address our long-term problem, which is of course washington spending. i know a number of democrats view this exercise as little more than an opportunity to raise taxes. what i'm saying is that they need to put their preoccupation with taxes aside and focus on
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the root problem. raising taxes is something you do when you lack the will or courage to reform a government there's become entirely too expensive. it's time to make some tough decisions for a change, and we'll only do it if we get started right now in a bipartisan fashion through the regular order. i know that my constituents are tired of seeing us careen from one crisis to another around here. regular order is how to avoid that. so let's avoid the 11th hour deals, and that means getting started right now on a legislative flan can actually pass -- plan that can actually pass. some pundits claim that washington is sumly incapable -- simply incapable of ever solving a challenge as big as this one. they say that our democratic institutions are broken.
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i say the opposite is true. history shows that divided government offers actually best opportunity to finally surmount this challenge. the president came to office in his first term with a problem to unify our country, to work with democrats and republicans to take on america's greatest challenges. unfortunately, this rhetoric was just thajust that. four years later polls show that we're more divided as a nation than when the president first took office. i believe the beginning of a second term actually presents a real opportunity to change course. to do the work that so many have refused to do for the past four years. this is our chance. this is our chance to prove the pundits wrong and get something actually accomplished. and let's be clear about something up front: solve yosolving our debt problet
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about austerity. it is about opportunity. not about austerity, it is about opportunity. it's about creating some space for businesses to grow and for a rising generation of americans to feel as though they can look to the future with optimism rather than with dread. witbut that only comes after soe hard work on the debt is done. so let's get to work. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: it seems lately i come to the floor when the republican leader is make being reasonable and sensible proposals. i heard him say the same thing last weefnlg iragre week. the president is elected. he deserves credit for that. he now has a chance to define his legacy.
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es he's told us what that is ins inaugural address. isn't this the right time to get out of the way? hasn't the house of representatives actually given us an unexpected three or four months in which we can do it in so if president obama wants, as i'm sure he must, to begin to work on the other issues that he talked about in his inaugural address -- immigration, for example, these other important issues -- why would we not go work right now as the republican leader says and deal with the runaway, out-of-control entitlement vend d spending that's going to -- spending that's going to bankrupt the program that seniors depend upon to pay their medical bills? we know that's going to a the chair trustees have seder it wil-- have saidit will happen i. let's just do it. the republican leader says, this isn't about austerity. the australian foreign minister came to this country and in his
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first address he said, the united states of america is one budget agreement away -- one budget agreement away -- from reasserting its preeminence -- rreasserting its global preeminence -- that's his view from downunder, looking at china, asia, japan. he thinks if he succeeds, australia success seeds. so you wants us to get this dong. average families want us to get this done. they don't understand why we don't get it done. they understand we keep spending money would don't have. we've had recommendations from the president, from the ryan proposal, we know exactly what to do and suddenly we have three months to do it, so i urge the president, make a proposal. show us what to do. there are 40 or 50, there might be 60 or 70 of us here on both sits of the aisle ready to go to
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work and do it nowvment yo now. so i congratulate the republican leader for his reasonableness and comments. i hope he continues to offer this. i hope i might say that every time we've had a crisis that needs to be resolved, it's been the republican leader and the white house has needs to get it done. so why don't they try again? i came hue here to talk about something else. i'm glad i heard the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: as we discussed before, and i think it is worth repeating, divided government is actually the best time to do difficult things. and we have four excellent examples in the last 25 years. ronald reagan and tip o'neill raising the age for social security which saved that program for another generation. ronald reagan and tip o'neill did the last comprehensive tax reform. bill clinton and the republicans did welfare reform and actually
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balanced the budgets, believe iter ow not, in thitor not. when you join hands and do it the american people understand it surely must have been something we needed to do because these guys actually were able to agree on it. and so i hope we won't miss another opportunity. sometimes i think we're a little bit like the early israeli foreign minister who said, i never missed and opportunity to miss an opportunity. the and it appears as if we've rarely missed and opportunity to miss an opportunity. hope hopefully whopefully we won't miss this one as well. mr. alexander: another example is president johnson and efferent dirksen on civil rights. that would not have happened if the government hadn't been divided and it wouldn't have been as easily accepted by the
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american people if it had not been divided. if this democratic president and mixture of republicans and democrats in congress say to the american people, we got a real fiscal cliff for you. all the programs that you depend on to pay your medical bills aren't going to have enough money to pay them, and we're going to have to make some changes to deal with that, people won't accept that, especially if it comes from both of us. and as far as who's supposed to propose it, well, senator corker and i proposed it. but we're not president. and we're not president. and i don't know what the governor of virginia's 1350er7bs experience was, but if i waited, we'd still be driving on dirt roads. the legislate,all 535 of us will say, no, mr. president, we couldn't possibly do it that way. let's do it ail bit different and we'll come to a result. that's the way our system works. we got three months to do it. i hope that the republican leader will continue to make
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husband point. -- continue to make his point. last friday a three-judge federal appellate court made an important decision. it stated president of the united states, president obama, on january 4 of 2012, made some recess appointments when the senate wasn't in recess. in other words, they were constitutionally invalid. the president made four appointments on january 4, 2014. three to the national labor natr relations booed and one to the consumer finance agency. he did it under his so-called recess appointment authority, which is defined in article 2 of the constitution. but the court said, no, mr. president, the senate wasn't in recess, that the only time you can make those appointments is between the annual sessions of congress and the
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constitutional also says those vacancies to which you appoint have to happen during that recess. now, the chairman of the national labor relations board made a remarkable response to the order of the court. the order of the court by the way, sa discriminated and import decision -- discriminated an important i guess -- discriminated an important decision -- vacated an important indication. decision. instead of re: recognizing the authority of the court, the nlrb chairman said, in effect, i'm going to hang up a sign that says, open for business. we have important work to do. and they're going to keep going. despite the fact that the nlrb has made 219 decisions with these two unconstitutionally appointed members since the first month of january 2012, all of which i would submit are invalid because two of the
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members who voted on the decisions were unconstitutionally appointed. so, mr. president, i'm here today to call for sharon block and richard griffin, the two members of the national relations labor board who were unconstitutionally appointed impi the president, according to the federal courts of america, calling on them to resign their positions and calling on the president of the united states to nominate two more members to the national labor relations board and then let's do when the constitution says we're supposed to do. the best-known authority of this body, the united states senate, is likely to be the advise and consent pri provisions. constitution. article 2, section 2, with the advice and consent of the senate the president shall appoint ambassadors and others. and there are about 1, 100 of those that the president appoints. and two years ago and then just last week we streamlined the confirmation process a little
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bit to narrow the focus on the most important appointees and make it easier to get them confirmed. so those are the checks and balances that the constitution meant to establish. they did that so that we would have liberty from a tyrannical executive branch, which is what the founders were worrying about, and the court is as that i had that the president exceeded that. thertherefore, these two memberf the nlrb should resign immediate lid and pack their bags and go home with our thanks for their hard work despite the fact that the cases they voted on ought to all b be vacated. a new sign needs to go up at the national labor relations board. take down the sign that say, open for business. put up a sign that says, help wants; nominations accepted. mr. president, the three-judge court of appeals did an
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interesting thing. they actually read the constitution in its plain english. here's what the constitution says. the president shall have the power to fill all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the senate. now, what is the recess of the senate? well, let's go back to the beginning of our country and for many years thereafter. sam houston, senator sam houston of texas had to go from texas to new orleans and get on a boat and come up the mississippi river and then ride a horse and take a stagecoach to get here. it took him weeks. same to go hope. james k. polk would take a stagecoach to pennsylvania and then -- or go on the river up to pennsylvania and follow the road to the house of representatives. at one time president polk after he became the president, had a vacancy in the attorney generals
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office and he wrote some person up in new hampshire and asked him to take the job. that took two or three weeks to get the letter and it took two or three weeks to get the answer, and the answer was "no." and so in those days, mr. president, there were long extended periods in this country between the annual sessions of the congress when the members of congress were spread all over the country. and so the founders anticipated that and they wisely put into the constitution a provision that said, during those times, the president may make a recess appointment, while the senate is in recess. and that person may hold the position until the end of the session. well, over the years, that has -- that has changed and various presidents have tried various ways to -- to fill vacancies during a recess, and that has become something different in the last while. and this hasn't been just
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democratic presidents who've done it. presidents have become frustrated because sometimes senates don't get -- senators don't give their advice and consent. i know about that. i was nominated by president bush the first to be the education secretary and the senator from ohio at the time thought i needed a little examination and held me up for three -- for three months. finally the senate agreed to my confirmation unanimously. that's what we're for. we're supposed to consider the president's nomination of senator kerry to be secretary of state, as we are. we're supposed to consider the nomination of senator hagel as secretary of defense. and according to the law, we're supposed to consider the president's nominees for the very important national labor relations board. but what the president did was make four appointments the day after he we went into our annual session. he made those -- we went into session on january 3, 2012. he made these appointments on january 4.
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the court said the senate was clearly in session, clearly in session, mr. president. and so if you disagree with the senate, if you're afraid you're about to nominate somebody who the senate won't like, well, then you -- you better get somebody the senate will approve or else you're not going to get that nominee. the president said, no, i'm going to do it my way so i'll just try to change this resource -- recess appointment and do it in a way that's more extreme than had ever been done before. i want to hasten to add that -- that there's no excuse here that if the president hadn't acted in this way, there -- the senate might have held up the nomination for too long. of course, the senate has that right, if it chose to. but in this case, the nomination only arrived two or three weeks before the president made his appointment. so we've got a straight-outset of facts here, says the court. according to the constitution, the appointment may only be made
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during the recess between annual sessions and it was not. and, second, it may only be made to a vacancy that occurred during the recess. and these two vacancies occurred months before the recess about which we are talking. now, the chairman of the national labor relations board says, open for business. in fact, the board should not be open for business because the board only has one member who has been constitutionally appointed and confirmed, in his case unanimously by the senate. so the board, without a full quorum of three members, which it does not have -- two are unconstitutionally appointed -- the board can't issue regulations, can't decide cases, including appeals of decisions or unfair labor practices. let me give you an example that
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might affect the state of tennessee. we were very concerned last year, i was, tennesseans were, when a complaint began to make its way through the national labor relations board affecting the boeing company and its decision to put a plant in south carolina. in other words, boeing, from a state that does not have a right-to-work law, wanted to put a new plant in a state that does have a right-to-work law. and a complaint was filed which on the face of it made it look like if you wanted -- if you tried to do that, it's just prime faish aevidence that you're -- prima facie evidence that you're violating the labor laws. that's a very expensive delay for the boeing company, and it would be for any company. well, that eventually got settled after a lot of expense. but let's say we have a small supplier in the state of illinois who might want to move to -- which is not a right-to-work state, might want to move to tennessee or have virginia, which are. and someone files a plaint.
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a complaint. do we want a board there who's unconstitutionally placed who might rule that that's a prima facie violation of federal law? to have members of the nlrb who are not confirmed by the united states senate raises the prospect that would undermine the right-to-work law in tennessee and virginia and all the other states that have chosen to have one. so this has very practical everyday application in the state of tennessee. but even though the board can't issue regulations or decide cases, the rest of the nlrb can be open for business while the president makes nominations and the senate considers those nominations in the regular order. for example, the nlrb could conduct elections, it could investigate allegations of unfair labor practices, it can issue a complaint. administrative law judges can hold hearings. regional directors can settle cases. the general counsel may seek to enforce orders. the general counsel could issue
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enforcement guidelines memoran memoranda. they're all open for business, but the national labor relations board is not open for business. it'its "open for business" sign needs to come down, and a new sign needs to go up saying, "help wanted: nominations accepted." finally, mr. president, there's a larger issue here. at the beginning of last year, i visited mount vernon. i mentioned that in the two minutes i had at the president's inaugural last week because it made such an impression -- an impression on me. i was reminded that the american revolution was about tyranny by king. that was the danger. that was what caused people to sacrifice their lives. i saw in the national archives this weekend the oath of allegiance signed by george washington and his troops which swore allegiance to a country that was not even formed yet, an
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allegiance that would have caused him to be executed if we'd lost the american revolution. so there were -- there was a lot at stake when our country was founded, and so much of it was about liberty and about an ability to resist a king or an imperial -- an imperial leader. and george washington himself so imposed his own character upon the american character by his modesty and restraint, by his decision to -- to step down as general of the american army. he could have been general for the rest of his life. but his decision to step down as president of the united states after two terms. he could have been president for the rest of his life. but at the beginning of our country, liberty to many people meant avoiding an executive that was too strong, that didn't have proper checks and balances. and our founders put into our constitution checks and balances with the court and with the
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legislature. and, of course, as we like to point out, article 1 is about the congress, about the legislature. and as i said earlier, perhaps the best-known function that the united states senate has is the ability to advise and consent. the president may nominate, but those important people, men and women, may not take their offices until they have been confirmed by the united states senate. well, this administration, i'm sorry to say, has not respected that checks and balances as i would hoped it would. i would suggest maybe a retreat to mount vernon for president obama and the white house staff. the obama administration has appointed more czars than the romonovs. we've always had some czars, such as the drug czar, but they have three dozen, three dozen who aren't subject to the usual restrictions that we -- that we have through the appropriations
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process. and the most blatant example of the imperial presidency are the recess appointments at a time when the senate, according to this court, was not in recess in order to put on to those positions men and women with whom the senate would not agree. if the president could do what the president did on january 4, 2012, on a regular basis, we might take a recess break for lunch and come back and find we have a new supreme court justice. so, mr. president, i'm here to suggest that the right thing to do would be to respect the tradition of checks and balances that are built into our constitution. it's at work here, because the president took an action; we didn't like it. and the third branch of government has made a decision that the president was wrong.
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the way to go forward is for the two members of the national labor relations board who were appointed unconstitutionally to resign their position, for the president to nominate as rapidly as he can men or women to fill those vacancies. to the extent the committee on which i'm the ranking republican which oversees labor matters has to do with that, i will pledge speedy consideration of those -- of those nominees. and let's get the national labor relations board back in business. but it cannot be open for business today. it cannot be properly open for business today. those two members should resign their position and recognize that the court has -- has said that we still have an america -- a constitution that provides checks, checks and balances. take down the sign that says "open for business, "put up the
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sign that says, "help wanted: nominations accepted." mr. president, i'd like to include in the record and ask consent to do so my remarks on february 2, 2012, about recess appointments which i made following the president's so-called recess appointments and following my visit to mount vernon. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president of the i yield the floor -- thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: delighted to see you presiding, mr. president. may i ask first that the quorum call be suspended? the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent that a fellow in my office, mr. derrick griffin, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. whitehouse: may i further ask consent that no points of order be in order to the lee amendment prior to passage of the bill. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that no points of order be in order to the lee amendment or h.r. 152 prior to a vote on passage of the bill. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. whitehouse: okay, thank you, mr. president. we are now entering a postfiscal
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cliff phase of budget negotiations and a troubling but familiar refrain is already beginning to echo through this chamber, which goes something like this: in order to fix our deficit, we must cut medicare and medicaid benefits. this is wrong. this is flat-out wrong. it is factually wrong. it is wrong. a recent "providence journal" editorial touched on the dangers of that misguided approach. the editorial read, "we need a better run on medicare and medicaid, not one that covers fewer people. quality can be improved and costs contained without throwing people off the rolls and into the streets and back into the free care of emergency rooms mandated for the uninsured and into expensive private insurance. in the end, we all pay in some way in quality of life and in
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money for the gaps we tolerate in our health care system." attacking medicare and medicaid is consistent with a particular political ideology. it has been part of that political ideology for decades now. but it is not consistent with the facts. it ignores the fact that our health care spending problem is system-wide, not just in federal programs. it ignores the fact that we operate in this country a wildly inefficient health care system. it's not just medicare. for example, secretary of defense robert gates said in reference to the defense budget, we're being eaten alive by health care. new data from the centers for medicare and medicaid services show that our national health spending increased to $2.7 trillion in 2011, which is about 18% of america's gross domestic
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product. this is more than three times what it was in 1992 and it's about 100 times what it was back in 1960. the presiding officer, the new senator from virginia, and i were probably around in 1960. so in our lifetimes, it's gone up 100 times. at this rate, by 2020, one out of every five dollars in this country will go towards health care. this is just a rocketing pace of increase. 1979, the year after i graduated from college, $221 billion. 1987, $519 billion.
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1992, $857 billion. and now $2.7 trillion. anybody looking at that graph of our exploding national health care costs who can think that medicare is the problem simply does not have a grasp of the facts. let's compare u.s. spending to other developed countries. this is us, pre the last report when we were still at 17.6% of g.d.p. the next least-efficient developed country is the netherlands at 12% of g.d.p. in 2010. germany and france were at 11.6% of g.d.p. this margin right here, the margin by which we are more inefficient than the least efficient of our industrialized
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competitors, $800 billion a year. we could save $800 billion a year on our national health care system just by becoming as efficient as the least efficient of our national competitors. for all of this extra spending, the extra $800 billion a year, one might expect that we would have paid for and earned longer and healthier lives, but that is not the case. our national institute of medicine recently compared the united states to 17 peer countries. we were worst for prevalence of diabetes among adults among those 17 countries. worst for obesity across all age groups of those 17 countries. and had the worst infant mortality, the worst infant
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mortality of all 17 countries. we suffer higher death rates and worse outcomes for conditions such as heart disease and chronic lung disease. this chart from that institute of medicine report shows all these dots of the other countries grouped around cost, expenditure per capita and life expectancy. that's the united states of america, the dot with the red circle around it. we are an outlier, below virtually all of these countries except poland and turkey and hungary, below them all on life expectancy. they are all above 78 and we're
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just below it. and wildly out of the grouping on cost. we are way higher cost than the grouping of all of our industrialized competitors. we are wild outliers in a very bad direction of high costs and poor outcomes. this is a stark and unsettling disparity of us from virtually all the other nations, and it's not to our benefit. so the real issue here, the fact that we have to deal with, is the cost and the performance of our health care system. another fact that i know the presiding officer is well aware of is how hard this is on american families. from 2000-2009, the average family premium for health insurance more than doubled from around $6,500 to more than $13,000. i can assure you, mr. president, the average family income did
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not double during that same period. unless maybe you were an average family on wall street. health care costs are a leading cause of family bankruptcy in this country. now, thankfully, the affordable care act will help millions of uninsured americans purchase health coverage, but we should add in addition to the knee-jerk reaction to target medicare and medicaid being out of step with these facts, it will also hurt those families more, without grappling with the real health care system cost problem. again, going after medicare is wrong. it is a misdiagnosis of the problem, and of course when you miss the diagnosis, you prescribe the wrong cure. medicare is actually one of the most efficient parts of our inefficient health care system. from 2007-2011 for the same set
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of health benefits, the annual growth rate in health spending per medicare enrollee was 2.8%. for private plans, 5.6%, twice as much, a 100% higher cost than for medicare. the congressional budget office has found that for every dollar that we spend on medicare, 98 cents of it goes through to people in the form of health care, actual health care. spend a dollar, get 98 cents worth of health care. for medicare advantage plans, the ones that the private insurance sector runs that operate under similar rules and treat the same population as medicare, every dollar spent delivers only 89 cents in health care, with the rest spent on administrative costs and c.e.o. salaries and marketing. so not only is medicare not the
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problem, it's actually one of the best ways we have for delivering health care through this wildly inefficient outlier of the health care system. i am not alone in saying that a correct diagnosis of the problem will lead us to health care system reform, not medicare benefit cuts. gale walenski, the former c.m.s. administrator under george h.w. bush, said in 2011, "if we don't redesign what we're doing, we can't just cut unit reimbursement and somehow think we're getting a better system." now, a lot of my colleagues give great credence to the private sector. in the private sector, one of the leaders in health care is george halvorson who recently stepped down as chairman and c.e.o. of kaiser permanente, one
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of the biggest and best health care companies in the country. here's what he said -- "there are people right now who want to cut benefits and ration care and have that be the avenue to cost reduction in this country and that's wrong. it's so wrong, it's almost criminal. it's an inept way of thinking about health care." so from republican administrators to private sector leaders, the message is the same -- we have to solve this as a system problem. let me give a couple of examples of how you might want to go about doing this. as one example of the significant savings to be found in our health care system, a "washington post" columnist recently wrote, and i quote -- "few people realize that medicare spends wildly different
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amounts per senior depending on where the senior happens to live. medicare spends 2.5 times more per senior in miami than in minneapolis." two and a half times more per senior in miami than in minneapolis. yet there is no difference in quality or health outcomes associated with this extra spending. in other words, medicare redistributes billions from regions where doctors practice cost-effectively to regions where the local medical industrial complex pads its income with excess services and procedures. our colleague, senator franken, often says if we could just deliver health care the way we do in minnesota, we could solve our problem, and this column and this information bears it out. if you're not getting better
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health care in miami, then why do we tolerate letting miami absorb two and a half times the cost per senior than they're able to provide it for in minneapolis? we should be driving miami towards minneapolis. we know they can do it in minneapolis. make that the model and force the change. this graph uses data from the dartmouth atlas project to illustrate this point. not only is there significant variation in health care cost and quality, each of these dots is a state and they are rated on overall quality and spending per beneficiary, and as you can see, they spread out from very high cost and very poor quality states like louisiana to very low-cost and high-quality states like new hampshire.
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but if you draw a statistical line through this array of dots, here is the line you get, and it shows the reverse correlation. the more you spend, the worse your care. a second example and that is consistent with this is how poorly our health care system performs on basic measures of quality and safety and prevention. for example, according to the news magazine "the week," avoidable infections passed on due to poor hospital hygiene kill as many people in the united states, about 103,000 people killed every year as are killed by aids, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. we're killing more people in this country through hospital-acquired infection than through aids, president clinton
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and hospital-acquired -- and auto accidents combined. these deaths are tragic to those families but they are tragic in another sense because they are preventable. as we have shown in rhode island, when hospital staff follow a checklist of basic instructions, washing hands with soap, cleaning the patient's skin with antiseptic, placing sterile drapes widely over the patient, rates of infection plummet, and the costs of treatying those infections disappear. the costs of treating the 100,000 americans who die every year from those hospital-acquired infections are huge, and they would disappear if we don't have the infections in the first place. and the costs of treating the hundreds of thousands who get those infections and don't die, who aren't among the 103,000 who die but nevertheless have to be treated. those costs also disappear. it's a pretty big number.
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we don't know exactly what it is, but the centers for disease control and prevention reported that from 2001-2009, there were state and federal efforts to prevent these hospital-acquired infections, and that contributed to a 58% decrease in the number of central line bloodstream infections among intensive care unit patients. that in turn represents up to 27,000 lives saved. 27,000 lives saved, at approximately $1.8 billion in cost savings to our health care system. let's do more of that before we go after medicare benefits. a third example is managing and preventing chronic disease. compare the united states to france on the treatment of lung disease, and you will find that although france has more smokers and therefore higher rates of lung disease than the u.s.,
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levels of severity and fatality are three times lower in france. france spends eight times less on treatment per person than we do. compare the united states to britain on diabetes, you'll find that britain spends only half of what we spend per person on diabetes but is five times more productive in managing diabetes than we are. dr. daniel vasella who is the chairman of novartis explains that in america, no one has incentives to make quality and cost-effective outcomes the goal, end quote. france and britain gave their health care providers incentives to focus on early defection and cost-effective treatment that make wellness the goal, not
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treatment. to paraphrase george washington university professor thomas j.schoenbaum, make virtue profitable and everyone becomes a saint. saving money by reforming how we deliver health care isn't just possible, it is happening. a 2008 report from the dartmouth atlas project predicted that, and i will quote -- "using the mayo clinic as a benchmark, the nation could reduce health care spending by as much as 30% for acute and chronic illnesses a benchmark based on intermountain health care -- based out in utah -- predicts a reduction of more than 40%." so we're doing it. it's happening. we just need to spread it more widely. during a 2011 senate help
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hearing that i chaired, greg p polson said, "i. intermountain and other organizations have shown that improving qualit is compatible with lowering cost oz. & indeed high-quality care is generally less expensive than substandard care. take a look what the various experts estimate as the potential annual savings that could be found in our health care system. the president's council of economic advisors says that we could annually save $700 billion. $700 billion a year. our national insult o national f medicine reported that we could save $750 billion a year. new england health care institute has estimated that savings of $850 billion a year
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are possible. and the lewin group -- a private group that focuses extensively on health care and does research and analysis -- together with george bush's treasury secretary paul ekneepaul o'neill have comh an estimate of $1 trillion a year. we don't know what the exact numbers are. these are estimates. but for sure there is a huge potential for savings in our health care system. these savings flow through to our federal budget. the federal government does 40% of america's health care system spending. if the estimate by the council of economic advisors is correct -- here we go, national health care expenditures, $2.7 trillion. federal health care spending,
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$1.1 trillion. do th the math. 40%. so if you take of those four estimates -- let's take the council of economic advisors estimate of $700 billion, the lowest of the four -- multifly by by 40%, the savings would be $280 billion a year savings to the federal government. just impi getting those kinds of savings. let's say that we can't get the $7500 billion. too hard to lift, can't get there, we tried. let's say that we can only get halfway. we can only get half of those estimates savings. that's $350 billion times 40%, we could set a target of $140
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billion of savings in the federal budget in health care having assumed a 50% failure rate in getting there from the lowest of the four major estimates. that's pretty conservative, to start from the lowest of the four major estimates, aressume a 50% failure rate, and there you are. you still get $140 billion a let's say we set the tart at $350 billion. the halfway target, and we failed at meeting even that target. let's say we failed again by half -- not close, a huge miss ... by half. the best we could do was to get $175 billion of the $7500 billin in savings.
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by 40%, guess what? that's $70 billion a year. $70 billion a quee -- we multify ten because it's a ten-year budget estimate. so if you're going to take that $70 billion and move into a budget discussion, it becomes $700 billion. so this is real money. let me add that most recently the commonwealth fund released a report that outlines a set of distinct policies that would accelerate health care delivery system reform and slow health spending by $2 trillion over ten years. not just $700 billion. $2 trillion over ten years, from 2014 to 2023. so how do we get there? well, many of the tools necessary to drive down costs
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and improve the quality of patient care are already in the law. the affordable care act, the famous obamacare, included 45 provisions that were virtually never been discussed on this senate floor because they weren't controversial, that were dedicated to redesigning how health care is delivered. those delivery system reforms cover five areas: payment reform, making sure people are paid poo keep you we will, not to wait until you get sick; primary and preventive care, less specialists, more care up front; measuring and reporting quality so we're not dealing with the hospital-acquired infections so much; administrative simplification, because it is a bear to keep up with all the different insurance companies trying to deny you payment; and health information technology so we have an electronic health record that loads with data and is sensible
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and state-of-the-art. these affordable care act delivery system reforms span across our health care system and they engage all stakeholders in the effort -- patients, physicians, hospitals, state governments and the federal government. which is good because working together is the right way to achieve these reforms. there is even evidence that the affordable care act is already working to slow the growth of health care spending. in a "washington post" op-ed this summer, kathleen sebelius wrote, "in the decade before the law passed, national healthed expenditures increased about 7% per year. but in the past two years, these increases have dropped to less than 4% per year. " so actually at the top of this graph it's actually starting to tip down a little bit thanks to that. dropping has saved americans more than $220 billion.
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peter or starks the former director of the office management and budget, said the same thing recently in an editorial. he said, "-- the presiding officer: the senator needs to begin to wrap up. nor senator may i ask for ran additional two minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i know that the distinguished senator from imam is waiting u peter owe czar wrote in the providence journal, "in gang 200, c.m.s. estimated that expenditures would reach 18.9% of gross domestic product in 2017. this year the projection for 20171 down to 18.4% of g.d.p. that difference amounts to a whopping $280 billion. in other words, relative to the projections issued three years earlier, today's forecast suggests health savings of
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$3,500 per family of four by 2017." did i this report for the senate help committee last year on the affordable care act delivery system reform provisions. if anybody is watching and wants a copy, contact my office. in this report we found that the administration has made fairly considerable progress on the 45 delivery system reform provisions in the law. but much more can and must be done. specifically, the report calls upon the obama administration to set a cost-savings target for health care delivery system reform. a cost-savings target will focus and guide and spur the administration efforts in a manner that vague intentions to bend the health care costs curve will not. it also would provide a measurable goal by which we could evaluate the progress of
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the affordable care act much the commonwealth fund in the report that i mentioned earlier has reported that, and i quote, "the establishment of targets can serve both as a metric to guide policy development and as an incentive for all involved parties to make them effective." one of the best examples of a clear target was president kennedy declaring that within ten years the united states government would put a man safely on the moon and bring him home. that message and the mission that was outlined was clear. the result was a mobilization of private and public resources to achieve that purpose because the goal was clear and specific. this administration has a similar opportunity, particularly now at the height of the implementation of the affordable care act: set a serious cost-savings target for our nation's health care system -- none of this
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spongy bending the health care cost curve stuff $and put the full force of american ingenuity into achieving that target. that approach has a triple benefit -- protecting medicare and medicaid benefits that don't need to be cut if we're doing this right. second, improving patient outcomes, making people healthier. and, third, dialing back health care spending by potentially hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. the alternatives to that will harm seniors and those least able to afford adequate health care. so i conclude by urging the administration, set a real cost-savings target -- a number and a date -- and then let's get to work to give the american families the health care system that they deserve. instead of waste and inefficiency, instead of being a
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disgraceful outlier from all the rest of the world on quality and cost, let's make for america a health care system that is the envy of the world. that should be our goal, and that could be our destiny. i thank the presiding officer, and i yield the floor, and i express my appreciation to the distinguished senator from alabama for his patience during my remarks. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i know there's a group of senators that have announced today that they have ideas, a plan, an outline a framework they call it for a new comprehensive immigration bill. -- that our current immigration system is not working effectively, indeed is 235eu8ing 0en 00 -- indeed is failing ton
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a daily basis cannot be denied. it needs to be fixed. it is a challenge for us to do so and will not be easy. i would, however, warn my colleagues that a framework is not a bill. and in 2006 and 2007 with the full support of the republican president of the united states, a bipartisan committee announced with great confidence that they had a plan that was going to fix our immigration system and we were all just going to line upped and vote for it much the masters of the universe had decided -- they'd meat in secret, they had all the special interest groups gather and they had worked out a plan that was going to change our immigration system for the better and we should all be most grateful. it came up with 2006, it did not pass. it came back again in 2007 with even more emphasis, and it
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failed coul loss -- and it failed colossally. it did not do it what they said it would do. it did not end the illegality. it did not set forth a proper principle of immigration for america. it did not sufficiently alter the nature of our immigration system to advance the national interests of the united states. it did not -- and that's why it didn't pass. it had all the powerful force oz, had the tv guys and the newspaper guys and the wall street guys and agriculture guys and the civil rights groups and the la raza groups and the politicians, but the american people said "no." it was a challenge and there was a long debate but it didn't pass. i thought the lesson learned from that was, demonstrate first that the law is being enforced
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i.end the illegality first and then we can wrestle with how to treat compassionately people who have been in america for a long time. i thought that was kind of what we had decide. now my colleagues say, don't worry; this is going to be better. this is going to be a better piece of legislation that can work for us. i hope that's true. because we do need to fix the immigration system. and there are things that we can do. and there are things we can do in a bipartisan, nonpartisan basis that would make our country's immigration policy better, more effective, and i hope that that's what will result from this. but i would just say, no one should expect the members of the senate are just going to rubber stamp what a group that have met and decided. we're not just going to rubber stamp what the president of the united states has just decided.
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and -- because we need to analyze it. each one of us -- every member of this senate has a responsibility, a firm duty to evaluate this law, to ensure that it enhances our ability as a nation to do the right thing. now, we are a nation of immigrants and we're going to continue to be a nation of immigrants. and we admit over a million people into our country every single year legally. but now we're told after 1986, when they had that immigration bill, that amnesty bill, that we have 11 million more people, give or take a few million, in the country illegally. they've entered the country illegally. and now we're told that, well, i know in 1986 congress promised the american people if they would give amnesty to the people who were here, that entered
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illegally, that they would stop illegal immigration in the future and that we wouldn't face this challenge again. and, in fact, our colleagues basically say that in their -- their niece they put out promoting the bill. we're never going to have to worry about immigration again if you pass our legislation. that was the promise that was made in 1986 when the bill did pass. but it did not fulfill its promise. so once again, i think that we're in a situation where the promise will be made, that people will be given immediate regularized status and they won't be given full rights of citizenship until certain laws are enforced and don't worry about it, it's all going to work out sometime off in the distant future. but questions do need to be
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asked and we will ask those questions and it will be important for us to do the right thing. i know that there are people who like low wages. i know there are people who believe that it's hard to get americans to do certain jobs and that you can use immigrants and they'll do those jobs at less pay and ask less questions and demand less benefits. i know that's out there. and we've talked about that here in the past. and i'm hoping that this legislation is not designed to further special interests but designed to advance the american interest. what are some of the principles that i think need to be in this system? i like canada's system of immigration. it seems to work very well. and they ask a number of questions. they give you points when you apply to come in to canada.
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you get more points for meeting the goals that they have. one of the goals that they have is that the potential immigrant speak the language. in canada, they have two, french and english. if you speak french or english, you get more points, or maybe you don't even get in if you don't have some grasp of the language before you come in on a permanent basis. then they give more points, more preference to people with education, skills and -- that they need in canada. this legislation suggests it does that. it should do that very seriously. it should be a major part of any immigration reform that focuses on trying to get the people who will be most successful in america, the ones we know are going to be able to do better here. it should not admit people who are likely to be a public charge. however, that's already the current law. you're not supposed to be
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admitted to america if you're likely to be a current -- a charge on the public. that is, you'll need government aid to take care of yourself. we've got people that are not going to need to be that. some of them are being turned down. we should take the ones who are not going to be a public charge. but we discovered, in looking at the numbers recently, that less than .1% of applicants to come to the united states are turned down on the basis that they might be a public charge. so, in effect, that's not being enforced. basically it's just not being enforced. so how can we be sure of that? my friend, steven moore, was on tv today. he's at the "wall street journal." he said, you don't have to worry about people coming in and being a public charge. there's a law against that. well, mr. moore, there may be a law against it but it's not being enforced. we need to know it's going to be
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enforced in the future. younger people in canada get a priority. well, pretty soon people will be on social security, medicare when they reach those ages. shouldn't we, as a rational nation, look to give priority to younger people who will work a little longer and pay more into the system before they draw these benefits? they give preferences to investors, those who create jobs and bring factories and -- and manufacturing to our country. those are the kind of things i think we ought to be talking about. this bill makes reference to guest workers in their outline. it's a very delicate issue. let me just tell you what was in last year's bill last time in 2007. and reason to my mind was one of the greater errors in the legislation. people would come into the country for three years.
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they could bring their family. they were still working at the place they came in to work at. they could extend for another three years and then another three years and another three years. and so i would ask somebody's been in the country eight, nine, ten years, could we just easily ask them to leave? not likely. what if they've had two children now and the children are automatic citizens? this is a very impractical system. so we need to examine how the guest worker plan will actually be carried out so that it, in my view, if a person would come without family for less than a year at a time, do seasonal, do particular work and then return to their country. and otherwise you've created an entirely new system that will be very, very difficult to enforce.
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and finally, we need to know pretty much what the nation can rightly absorb in terms of the number of people that will come each year, and as a result of that, we need to make sure that the legislation has a -- the kind of limit on it that would make common sense in the world that we live in. finally, i would say we face a particular hurdle this time. we faced this hurdle last time but i believe it's even more particular this time and that is that the chief law enforcement officer of the country, then president bush, now president obama, but under president obama, he's particularly acted to undermine the ability of the law enforcement community to actually enforce existing laws. the presiding officer: time has expired. mr. sessions: mr. president, i would ask consent to have an
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additional two minutes. the presiding officer: seeing no objection, unanimous consent. mr. sessions: the i.c.e. officers, the immigration, customsen and forcement officers, have -- customs, and enforcement officers, have voted no confidence in mr. john morton, the director of i.c.e., because of his failure to lead and his, in fact, undermining of their ability to do their job, and they've sued him for interfering with the actual officer to do their job in enforcing the laws in the country. and actually the court has just recently upheld the lawsuit and allowed it to proceed. what a terrible thing that is. so i would say that we need to be sure that we have in the president someone who's committed to enforcing the law if it's passed. and if that had been so, we'd be in a lot better position today. mr. president, i see my
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colleague from louisiana. i believe he's to be recognized next. but he's been such a good student of this issue. fabulous lawyer, editor of the tulane law review and he understands that. and i really am glad he could be here today. one more thing i would note, that in addition to the fact we have a president less willing to enforce the lay, the labor participation rate in 2007 when that bill was brought up before and amnesty was defeated, was 66%. today the labor participation has dropped to 63.6%. and unemployment in 2007, when it failed before, was 4.5%. it's now 7.9%. so i do think we need to ask serious questions about any proposal and maybe we can work forward with some legislation that would serve the national interest. maybe we can do it on a bipartisan basis. but it's going to take real attention to details.
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the details is what makes the difference and that's what i'm concerned b. i than about. i thank the chair ask would andd yield the floor. mr. vitter: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to eight minutes and i would ask the chair to notify me when six minutes have elapsed. mr. durbin: i will not object but i ask consent to amend the consent that i follow the senator from louisiana in speaking. the presiding officer: without objection, both are so ordered. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. and through the chair, i want to thank mr. durbin for his courtesy in light of another engagement i have. mr. president, i also rise to join my colleague from alabama, to join many others, to express real concern on this topic of illegal immigration and the ne need, the desperate need, to fix this problem, to solve this problem. mr. president, i believe we all want to cherish and hold up and continue the proud tradition of this country which is founded on
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immigration. mr. president, one of the many things that makes america unique is that we are a nation of all of us immigrants. none of us somehow have some blood oath or blood tie to this land that goes back from time immemorial. we all came here relatively recently, in the grand scheme of things, from other lands, all of our families. we are a nation of immigrants and immigration, and we chair risch thacherishthat and we cel. but, of course, mr. president, historically that has been a system of legal immigration. and it's so worrisome to me and so many others that over the last 30 years in particular that has really evolved into a wide-open, relatively little enforcement system of illegal immigration that flourishes, that abounds and grows as our
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traditional legal immigration system gets less and less workable for the folks trying to follow the rules. and, mr. president, that is my concern as i look at many of these immigration reform proposals, particularly proposals for so-called comprehensive reform like the one outlined today. mr. president, to me, i think the test is pretty simple: how do we uphold our tradition of immigration and fix the problem, solve the problem, not allow it to continue or, worse yet, grow and mushroom? and to me, that's the bottom line, mr. president, will any proposal that will make be debating, will the proposal outlined by some of my colleagues today fix the problem or will it perpetuate the problem or, god forbid, even
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grow the problem dramatically? mr. president, what heightens my concern is that we have history as a guide, and history suggests this brand of so-called comprehensive immigration refo reform, this promise of enforcement as long as we have an amnesty, all of those things put together is a recipe for failure. mr. president, of course, the most notable case of this was in 1986 under president reagan. there was a so-called comprehensive immigration reform proposal that passed into law. and the promise, the model was very simple. we're going to get serious about enforcement. we really, really are. and we're going to have a one-time leniency or amnesty. and it will fix the problem once and for all, we'll never have to look back and that will be done.
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well, mr. president, as we know from bitter experience since then, didn't quite turn out that way. the promised enforcement never fully materialized. in fact, in my opinion, it never materialized in any -- to any significant extent. however, the leniency, the amnesty happened immediately. it happened the second that bill was signed into law. and so did it fix the problem estimated at three million illegal aliens then? no. it not only perpetuated the problem; it grew the problem to 12 plus, some people think as high as 15 million to 20 million illegal aliens now. so it grew the problem enormously because you had promised enforcement which never adequately materialized, but an amnesty which happened immediately. and, mr. president, that's the
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fundamental concern. that's the deadly scenario that i'm concerned about with regard to virtually all of these so-called comprehensive solutions. there is one thing, at least one thing that has changed since 1986, and it's this, mr. president. compared to 1986, we have a president and an administration in power which has proved time and time again that they have no will, no focus on real enforcement. why do i say that? well, this is the administration that sued states attempting to enforce immigration laws and get control of the border. didn't support those states, didn't try to find a federal fix. did one thing: sued states like arizona trying to deal with a flow across the border and all
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of the violence and crime that is an aspect of that. this is the administration that ended the 32-287-g local hraurplt -- law enforcement programs that were fairly effective. they scuttled that program completely, threw it out the window. this is the administration, of course, that propagated the fast and furious gun-walking scandal and still hasn't answered questions about that adequately, in my opinion. thank you, mr. president. this is the administration that unconstitutionally put into effect the dream act by administrative fiat. congress would not pass that. a democratic house and a democratic senate failed to pass it. president obama at the time said he did not have adequate powers to put it into law administratively, and yet when it came time to run for
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reelection he did by administrative fiat. in my opinion, many people's opinion, well beyond his legal authority. and so, that is the main thing that's different from 1986. we have a president and an administration that's proved to be completely opposed to aggressive and real enforcement. so i hope, mr. president, as we continue this debate with my distinguished colleague from illinois and many others, we focus on that central question: will this solve the problem? because in my opinion, we've seen this movie before, we've tried this so-called comprehensive approach before, this marriage of promises of enforcement with leniency or amnesty, and history suggests that that doesn't work. the enforcement never adequately shows up. the amnesty immediately does. and in this proposal, although it might not be immediate
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citizenship, it's immediate legal protection and many benefits that flow from that. thank you, mr. president. i look forward to continuing this discussion. spoeup -- the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was july of 1911, a boat arrived in baltimore. it came over from germany, and among the passengers getting off that boat were a small number of people from lithuania. they included my grandmother, my aunt, my uncle and my mom. my mother was two years old in 1911, and she was brought to america along with her family as an immigrant. i wish that i'd asked the questions before everyone passed on about how much anyone remembered from that experience, because i've always wondered about it. i always wondered how this family that spoke no english got
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off that boat and got to east st. louis, illinois, which is where i grew up and where a lot of lithuanian immigrants went to work in the packinghouses, steel mills and coal mines nearby. but that's the story of the durbin family, at least my mother's side of it, and it's not a unique story. it's a story of america. my mother came to this country two years of age with a mother who didn't speak english, and today her son serves in the united states senate. it's a great story about this great country. and it also tells a story of how many millions like her came to these shores looking for something that was important in their lives. first and foremost, to feed their children, to get a job. that's always the number-one reason. up in my office here, just a few steps away from the senate floor, in a desk drawer i have one thing that was carried in the luggage by my grandmother when she came over from lithuania. it was a prayer book. it was a catholic prayer book.
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we're roman catholics. they were leaving lithuania where the russian czar had come in and said to the roman catholics, if you're not russian orthodox, you're going to have to play by different rules. and one of the rules, you can't have any of your prayer books written in lithuanian. they must be written in russian. my grandmother, whom i never knew, must have been a defiant and risk-taking woman, because she had one of these contraband prayer books and brought it with her to america, because she knew she could use it here without a problem, because of the freedoms in this country. that, again, is a little family story from my life experience, my family experience, but one that could be represent indicated in many -- replicated in many different ways. we just had a press conference upstairs and you may see coverage a little later on. there were five of us representing six senators who have been sitting together and working on this immigration issue. three democrats, three republicans. on the democratic side i've been honored to join chuck schumer of
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new york and bob menendez of new jersey. on the republican side, john mccain of arizona, lindsey graham of south carolina, marco rubio of florida. pretty interesting group; right? pretty interesting political spectrum represented by these six senators. for the last few months we've been sitting down and working out a statement of principles about immigration reform. and today we unveiled those principles. we have a lot of work to do. we still have to write the law and we still have to bring it to the senate to be debated and to be passed. i don't assume for a minute that we're going to have every senator supporting it on both sides of the aisle. that would be too much to consider or to ask. but i know from listening to the speeches that were given by senator sessions of alabama, senator vitter of louisiana, they have many questions that they want to ask about how we approach immigration reform. so let me try, if i can, to speak to some of the basics that are included in our effort.
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first, when i listened to the senator from louisiana, he said that president obama had done little to enforce immigration laws. i think you will find for the record that this president has deported more people in his tenure than predecessors, particularly those who have been associated with criminal activity. in fact, he's received some criticism saying he's going too far. to argue he's not enforcing the law is not supported by the facts and the statistics. the senator from louisiana also said that president obama was the author of the fast and furious program, which was a border effort to try to stop the flow of guns that blew up in the faces of those who engineered it and ended up in the tragic death of one of our own. i would just say for the record, that program began under president bush, not under president obama. so there are some facts that we need to put on the record. but i'd like to also speak to a
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couple elements here that have been raised about this effort on immigration reform. let's get down to basics. immigration is part of who we are in america. it is the reason we are such a diverse nation. my family story, as i said, can be repeated over and over again. and every generation has faced a new wave of immigration coming in to this country. i think it's a healthy thing. i think there's something in the d.n.a. of those people who get up and come here, who are determined to improve their lives. these people turn out to be the entrepreneurs and the teachers and the leaders of our nation because they weren't content staying in some place where they didn't achieve their goals. they wanted to come to america. so immigration of is part of who we are. and the debate over immigration is part of who we are. it's been going on forever. i think as soon as the first boat landed here with immigrants to america, they started questioning whether we needed another boatload of immigrants. that debate has gone on
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throughout our history. there have been some terrible things done in the name of immigration reform, and some good things as well. secondly, immigration and the demand for immigration says a great deal about america. people want to come here. it says a lot about it, doesn't it? here we are in a democracy with the freedoms we enjoy in an economy that offers such wonderful opportunities, and people from all over the world given a choice would come here for their future. that's a positive thing. but the third thing is our immigration system is broken down. i got elected about 16 years ago to the senate. one of the first phone calls came from senator ted kennedy, chair of the immigration subcommittee on the judiciary. he said welcome to the judiciary committee. please come on migration subcommittee. i said thank you. he said we're about to rewrite the immigration laws. we haven't done it for ten years. the last time was under president reagan. now we're going to do it again, and we need you to be part of
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it. i signed up in a hurry. it didn't happen. and 16 years have passed. so for 25 years-plus, we haven't looked at this immigration law, and it's broken. it's broken badly. it's broken when we have 11 million or 12 million people living here who are undocumented. many of them came here on legal visas and overstayed their visas. some did sneak across the border to come in to the united states. there are a variety of explanations, but they're here. i've come to know them. for many people who aren't in this business, maybe you don't know them. but i'll tell you who they are. they happen to be the person who just took the plates off your table at the restaurant. they are the ones who are unloading the food at the dock behind the restaurant. they'll be making the beds in the hotel rooms across america tonight. a lot of them are in the day-care centers with our children and grandchildren, whom we dearly love every day. some are tending to our parents and grandparents who are in nursing homes. and some of them have just sat down next to you in church on a
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regular basis. they're undocumented. they don't talk about it. they don't wear it on their sleeves. many of them are afraid to say anything. and they don't live in a house full of undocumented people. by and large, you're going to find families split up. you may find dad, who's been here the longest, who qualified under the reagan amnesty in 1986, he's a legal citizen. mom is not. all three children born here are. there's a family that is literally split by our immigration system. that's the reality of what we see in america today. and the question is, how did we reach this point? what can we do about it? we now are sitting down on a bipartisan basis to address it. first, we need to make sure that we're doing everything we can reasonably at the border to keep illegal immigration down, to reduce it as low as possible. i know, as i said earlier, there are people from all over the world who want to come here, but for those who suggest we're not doing enough at the border, i would like to call their attention to a recent press
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release from the migration policy institute. it says -- and this press release is from january 7 of this year. the u.s. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principled federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, with nearly $18 billion spent in fiscal 2012, approximately 24% higher than the collective spending for the f.b.i., drug enforcement administration, the secret service, the u.s. marshals service and the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives. to argue this president is not enforcing the law when we have so many deportations and to argue he's not taking it seriously when we are spending record-breaking amounts on the border just isn't backed up by the facts. but still we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep the border safe and to reduce illegal immigration. that's the first thing. the second thing is to say that
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those who are here, if they want to be legal, have to earn their way to legal status. how do they earn it? first, they go through a criminal background check. we don't want anyone here who is a threat to our nation or to the people who live here. they'll be asked to leave. in fact, they'll be forced to leave. but those who pass the criminal background check, they'll need to pay a fine. they have to pay their taxes. and then they can stay and work in a legal probationary legal status while we make the border safe. ultimately they have to be able to speak english, learn our history and civics and then go through a lengthy process before they are granted, even possibly granted citizenship. we also say at the same time that we are going to build into the system enforcement in the workplace. what brings most people to america? jobs. it's all about a job. and if in the workplace we have real enforcement where we have an identification card from those who are seeking a job and
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an obligation on the part of the employer to make sure that they are registered in this country, then we can start to have a system of enforceability. we also need -- and senator rubio of florida has been pushing this -- we need to make sure that when it comes to visas in the united states, when we allow people to travel here to be tourists or students or for business purposes and they have an expiring visa, that they leave when they are supposed to. our system now is not as good as it should be. we want to strengthen that system. that is part of what we need to do. i think immigration reform is long overdue. this fixed -- this immigration system we have is badly broken and needs to be fixed. we need to take the leadership here in washington. this bipartisan group of senators has started an effort in that direction. we have a long, long way to go. we have to write the bill. we hope to have it done, we hope, by march, and we hope to bring it to the committee process for regular hearings,
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for amendment process and everything that entails. that to me will make sense in the long run. in the meantime, i want to say a word about the dream act. i introduced that bill 12 years ago. it was referred to on the floor here. it's worth a minute or two to recount why i introduced the bill. we received a phone call in our office from a program in chicago known as the merit music program. it's a program, a wonderful program, a lady left some money for it and said use the money to buy musical instruments for kids in poor schools and give them lessons, music lessons. what an amazing transformation it creates in their lives. 100% of the graduates of the merit music program go to college, all of them. it just is an amazing thing what a musical experience will do for a young person. well, there was a young korean girl named tear's a lee who -- named teresa lee who came from an extremely poor family.
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she became part of the merit music program and became an accomplished pianist. she was encouraged to go to juilliard school of music and manhattan conservatory school of music, she was so good. as she started to fill out the application, she stopped and turned to the person in the program and said i don't know why i'm doing this, i am undocumented. i have never told anybody that. i don't know why i'm wasting my time with this. at which point they called our office and said what can we do for teresa? it turned out the law was very clear. she had to leave the united states for ten years, go back to brazil which was the last country she was in and apply to come to the united states. that seemed unfair. she was brought here when she was 2 years old. she didn't vote on that. her parents picked her up and brought her here. i thought there are probably others like her. there are, there are hundreds of thousands. i introduced the dream act. here is what it said. if you were drought to the united states before the age of 16, you finish high school, you
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have no serious criminal issues and you are prepared to either enlist in our military or finish at least two years of college, we'll give you a chance to become a citizen. i introduced it 12 years ago. i have called it on the floor over and over again. the senator from louisiana is correct. the senate didn't pass it. we couldn't get 60 votes to break a republican filibuster on the dream act. we had a majority. we just didn't have 60. that was several years ago. so president barack obama, who was my colleague in the senate before he was elected president and was a cosponsor of the dream act, said i am going to suspend the deportation of those young people who would be eligible under the dream act, and he did. it went into effect last august. congressman luis gutierrez of chicago is a great leader on this immigration reform. he and i held a workshop at navy pier, which is a big gathering place in chicago, in august for those who would be eligible for this deferral of deportation
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under the dream act. we never dreamed, mr. president, that they would start lining up at midnight the night before. they would stay out there all night long with their families, waiting for a chance to sign up. it was just such a heart-warming experience to know how much this meant, not only to the young person but many times to their undocumented parents who thought at least my child will get this chance. so some criticized the president for making this decision, but two-thirds of the american people, democrats and republicans alike, think it was the right decision, and i do, too. i have met these dreamers. i have talked about them on the floor over and over again. i will continue to. but these young people will make this a better country, and they deserve a chance to do just that. so those who are critical of the dream act are basically saying that these young people aren't needed in this country. i think they are. they have spent their whole lives being educated here. they have gotten up every morning at school, put their hand on their heart and pledged allegiance to that great flag, believing this is their country, too. they deserve a chance to make it
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such. marco rubio of florida and i have worked on this dream act issue. he said something that i remember and would like to recount. he said this isn't an immigration issue. this is an issue of compassion, humanitarianism. these were kids when they were brought here. they deserve this chance. so i know that this will be included in any immigration reform, and i certainly hope that we will pass it and pass it soon. we spoke to the president last night, senator schumer and hi a conversation with him. tomorrow he will be making a statement in nevada about immigration. he's committed to immigration reform. he's committed to fixing this system. he told us that what we're setting out to do is generally consistent with what he wants to see done, but he did tell us get it done. don't let this drag out again. seize the moment and move forward with it. well, we have that chance, mr. president. we've got to do it. we've got to do it because this nation of immigrants, this nation that will still attract immigrants needs a legal system
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that works for those who are here and those who want to come here. we have got to make sure that we are sensitive to the fact that americans should receive the first preference for jobs, and that will be included in our bill, but also beyond that, jobs that some americans don't want. in agriculture, for example, and in other areas. we need some people coming in to help, and they can be part of this immigration reform as well. mr. president, i yield the floor. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i want to speak on one of the topics of the day.
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a group of bipartisan senators have had a press conference today announcing their support for a comprehensive immigration reform piece of legislation. this is a significant step, and perhaps the biggest step was on the way to immigration reform was the result of the november 6 election. as a matter of fact, it has been chronicled in all of the newspapers that overwhelmingly the hispanic community in every state voted overwhelmingly for the candidate that was perceived to be fair on the immigration issue, and i think that has
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propelled political motivation to address this issue and to address it fairly, and i want to commend that bipartisan group of senators for doing this. there are a number of key elements that as we then get into the specifics of the legislation that is going to be important. notice that they want to lay everything on the predicate that there is going to be the essence of a real border security effort done, and it's hard to patrol a border of thousands and thousands of miles like we have, particularly where there is no geographical barrier, and people can merely walk across the border. but it has to be done in the
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context of the overall immigration reform. another interesting part that has been very thorny in the business community is the fact of verification by employers. when this senator was a young congressman and voting on immigration back in the 1980's, as a matter of fact, there was approved to be verification by employers that those that they were hiring were here in a documented status. well, that never happened, and as a result, you see all of these head fakes in implementing the law about whether or not somebody was here in a documented status, and then when
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they were found not to be, everybody pointing like this, well, it's the other guy's fault. so there has to be a verification system put in place. some have suggested electronic verification. that needs to be explored. there are going to have to be a lot of new things being explored in order to make sure if we're going to have a comprehensive immigration reform that those that are being employed here in fact are in a documented status. but the big question in the past politically has been what about the 11 million that are estimated to be in this country working and in an undocumented status? and i think the principles laid out by the group earlier today are very good.
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they must play by the rules, they must not have a criminal record, they must pay back taxes, must pay a fine and then go to the end of the line. even though they would be allowed a legal status to stay here and to continue working, and that's another one of the elements, that they must have a job and demonstrate that they have had a job in the past, that it wouldn't be fair for all of them suddenly to get in at the head of the line when others had been waiting patiently in the legal process of getting a green card. and thus, you would not have this economic upheaval as some here have approached this issue
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in the past year. we haven't heard a lot of this since the election, but previous to that, we heard a lot about send them all home, self-deportation, deport all of the illegals. well, first of all, there will be an economic collapse of part of the economies of this country if you suddenly eliminated all of those workers upon whom the economy certainly is dependent upon, and it also in many cases would not be fair. now, there is another part of this that needs to be added, and this is the fairness question for the children that came here through no fault of their own. they have grown up thinking they are only american, and then the
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current law is they have got to be deported. well, this senator has intervened in a number of cases of children that wanted to go into the military after high school, wanted to go on to college, and they were at the point of being deported. as a matter of fact, we had a bohemian child who had come when he was six months old. he only knew he was american. he served two tours in iraq in the united states army, came back, went into the navy reserves, had a top-secret clearance, was a photographer for the navy at guantanamo prison, and came back, and the authorities put him in jail -- a veteran, someone who was still active duty u.s. navy reserves.
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and a u.s. federal judge of cuban-american descent made a very harsh statement in miami toward the prosecutors for them putting a child, now an adult, now a veteran, having served both the army and the navy, with a top-secret clearance, putting them -- putting that bohemian, now adult, in jail. this is how ridiculous the system has gotten. and this senator had to intervene in this case, and once we raised enough cane, finally
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people came to their senses and said, what is the common sense thing to do? well, the commonsense thing now for us to do is all to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law. and hopefully that's going to occur. now, the question is, though, what's going to happen at the other end of the hall, down there in the house of representatives? because there are a lot of people down there that haven't changed their attitude in the other party since the election. they still are expressing that they don't want anything but deportation. i think we're just going to have to use common sense and commode reaga-- andmoderation and try tn
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why this is the fair thing to do. as a young congressman, i favored this comprehensive approach decades ago. i've voted for it as a senator. i will gladly, once they knit together the legislation, i will gladly be one of the cosponsors of this legislation, and i want to thank the bipartisan group of senators that got together, which includes my colleague from florida, senator rubio, for them willing to take the initiative and to start plowing new ground of legislation that ought to be able to be passed this year. madam president, i yield the floor, and i would suggest the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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ms. mikulski: madam president? the ask that the call of the quorum be availabilitied. officer without objection. the senator from maryland. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the consideration of h.r. 152, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 2, h.r. 152, and act makingempt spl a eption pros for the fiscal year ending september 30 -- ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask that everything be considered as read. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president, while i rise to urge my colleagues to immediately pass this urgent supplemental bill without further delay, to he red my colleagues and those who were
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watching this on global c-span, i want to say, this is the bill that will pay for disaster relief on the -- to help our citizens both as individuals, business, and as communities, rebuild their lives after the devastating, horrific impact of hurricane sandy. particularly it will impact on the residents of new york and new jersey. it will also -- my own state was affected. in my own state, madam president, we had two things happen -- a hurricane in the old-fashioned definition of that word hit the eastern shore. and up in eastern western maryland right up in our apay lay chan part, we had a blizzard. it took the national guard to be ail to go into the streets. so we had people being rescued on swiftboats and on
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snowmobiles. it was something. and at the same time i think all of america watched what was going on up the coast, particularly on new jersey and new york. many other states were also impacted by this storm. homes and businesses were damaged and destroyed. and they had been waiting for 90 days for help from their government to help them rebuild their lives and rebuild their livelihoods. i, therefore, tonight ask immediate urgent action to move this bill. it is not perfect, by it is a very sound bill. it's the one -- the bill that was passed by the senate in december was a superior bill. the house bill, which is before us, eliminates many important provisions that the senate passed. i'll go into that. but i urge my colleagues, let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good. we've got to get started. we have to help our communities.
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they've been waiting, waiting, waiting. governor cuomo, governor christie, governor o'malley have all said, move it. we need help. and move it we need to. so i say that there are things that came back to the house from the senate-passed bill that i'm not too excited about. they reduce the cost-share requirements for army corps projects. in other words, the government -- the local government will have to pay more. they reduce funding for fisheries, for flexibility to help our state department. in -- in a perfect bill, i would seek to amend this bill and ask for a conference with the house so we could work out these differences. but even though this house bill is not perfect, it does give critical relief to the people who need it. therefore, passing this bill is my top priority.
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this bill totals $50.5 billion for hurricane sandy recovery efforts. when combined with the $9.7 billion of flood insurance that we passed earlier this month along with the assistance for hurricane sandy related for recovery, this bill meets the current needs of the recovery efforts and should be approved without delay. let me take a few minutes to discuss some of the important issues. there's $16 billion in there for community development block grant to restore infrastructure and housing to help people rebuild their lives. there's $11.5 billion in the fema disaster fund for ongoing disaster response. $10 billion for public transportation, particularly crucial in the new york and new jersey area. $5.3 billion for the army corps of engineers to help protect
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communities along our shorelin shorelines. and $500 million for the social service block grant to meet compelling human needs, like child care, mental health services, and also for programs that will help with very damaged facility that met compelling needs. as i said, madam president, governors cuomo and christy -- cisie havhave identified billiof dollars more than that are not in here. that does include other states like my state of maryland. every dollar has been examined. hurricane sandy was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the united states. hundreds of thousands of families have seen their lives turned upside-down. they've waited far too long for this legislation to reach the president. i strong the urge the support of
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this legislation. and this is the very first bill as the full chair of the appropriations committee i'm moving. i want to acknowledge the role of the subcommittee chairman because in that committee, the subcommittees really carry the bulk of the work. senator landrieu of the subcommittee on homeland security, under which fema is her jurisdiction, has done an outstanding job of making sure we meet compelling human need and at the same time get value for our dollar. senator patty murray chairs the subcommittee that funds housing and transportation, again, to make sure that we're rebuilding homes and livelihoods. senator feinstein on the army corps of engineers, again, while they've been doing a heroic job getting the -- keeping the mississippi river open, they want to make sure the shoreline of new york and new jersey and maryland is open for business as well. i could name all of them but those three have done an
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outstanding job. and i particularly want to acknowledge the help of my colleagues from new york and new jersey. senator schumer has led the way, particularly when there was this difficult time with senator inouye's illness to move this bill. but senator gillibrand, menendez and lautenberg have really been outstanding. this is about colleagues, and i want to thank our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who helped us. i know that -- i really would now like to yield the floor to senator landrieu, who has done such a great job through her subcommittee and ask her to elaborate on the aspects particularly on disaster response and recovery. ms. landrieu: thank you, madam president. i thank my colleague for her really extraordinary and robust and enthusiastic leadership for this important piece of legislation that will send hope and help to the northeast, to
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the dozens of counties throughout new york, new jersey and even in the state of maryland and other states that are waiting on pins and needles for our action. and, madam president, it has been too long, we have sent too many different signals out from this capitol. the people following this deba debate, the mayors, the country commissioners, the school board members, the citizens, the pastors of churches, the principals of schools need to hear today a big "yes" from congress and a "yes" from the president that help is on the waway. believe me, as a senator from louisiana, unfortunately i have become an expert on disasters and disaster recovery, and i can tell you from personal witness and testimony the importance of every action we take regarding this recovery so that the
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private sector -- and i want my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to hear this -- so that the private sector, not taxpayer money, but the private sector will have the confidence that the government will be there and they will begin to invest themselves. but this is a big effort, and until the federal government acts -- and we have already delayed this further than it should have been because we're arguing over offsets. and i want to put in the record this statement. "when our troops in iraq and afghanistan needed ammunition, equipment and better protection against roadside bombs, we sent them what they needed as quickly as we could get it there." we didn't make them wait and sit around bandaging their wounds while we debated about offsets and how we were going to deal with those explosives. we should respond with the same sense of urgency to our fellow citizens and address emergency
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needs on u.s. soil. it has already been three months since hurricane sandy. if this lee amendment is adopted, it will be delayed further. i strongly oppose the lee amendment and i want to talk a minute more about why and i'm going to turn it over to senator schumer and others on the floor. we should not use disasters as an excuse to push ideology. and that's, i'm afraid, what the other side is doing. they want to look for any excuse to cut the budget. i want to say again, we've already cut this budget by $1.5 trillion. and i want to say for the 11th, 12th, 13th final, we're never going to cut our way to a balanced budget. i want my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to hear it. we're not going to cut our way to a balanced budget. it is going to be a combination of revenue increases and reductions -- and cuts, which i'm all for. and the last negotiation that we did was exactly that, that president biden -- president -- vice president biden and
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president obama negotiated, a combination of revenues and reductions. all the lee amendment does is reduce again. he does not offer one new penny to pay for this. he wants to cut it from veterans. he wants to cut it from firefighters. he wants to cut it for police officers. i'm not going to join him in that. it's a wrongheaded approach. if we want to find a way to pay for disasters, i'll show up and negotiate with anybody. but it's not going to be just by cutting defense budget or discretionary budget. it's going to be about either raising some additional revenues and cutting. you will have me. until then, put me down as a "no." and i'm going to suggest to all of my colleagues today that they vote "no" on the lee amendment, if we get to these votes, and "yes" on the underlying bill. one more word, two minutes, about the underlying bill because the senators from the region know it much better than i do. i agree with the chairman from maryland, the senate bill was far more -- far better in some ways. not only did it have a little bit more money in if -- in it
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but it had some important tools for reform. unfortunately the house stripped some of those out. however -- and some of them will affect the gulf coast in a negative way. but even though it affects the gulf coast in a negative way, commonsense things, particularly a loan forgiveness -- not forgiveness, a loan modification provision that would have forced fema to actually calculate the repayment in a rational way instead of an irrational way, it would have helped some of the perishes in -- parishes in louisiana. senator vitter and i fought hard for that. we think it's fiscally responsible, we think it's the right thing to do. but you know what? the house stripped it out. but we're still going to vote -- i know i will, i hope he will -- for this bill because, again, we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good. this is a good bill that the people need. we're not going to get every reform that we had sought but we're going to get the bulk of them. and i have to send by saying i thank republicans and democrats on the house side. peter king, nita lowey that came
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together to preserve some of the reforms, madam president, because it would be like sending money with dull tools. that's a waste of taxpayer money. you want to send the money and the toolbox with sharp tools that people can use. and that's what we put in this bill. so i'm proud to have worked on that part. there are many other parts. no leader was better than senator schumer, senator gillibrand, senator menendez, senator lautenberg. but the part that we worked on were preserving the reforms that we learned we needed, and now i'm happy to be able to give some of that help to the people of the northeast, even though some of our amendments were stripped out. and i know there are other members to speak so i'll yield the floor and submit the rest in writing to the record. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: madam president, i know there's a lot of passion on
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the floor here regarding this particular legislation. probably no one on this floor has not had some semblance of a disaster in their state that they represent and the people. sandy clearly rises to one of the top categories of something truly catastrophic. but many of us have experienced tornadoes and destruction and floods and a number of other disasters. and clearly, one of the functions, one of the essential functions of government is to address those in immediate need and meet some of those needs. and in cooperation with local and state authorities, federal authorities stepping up, we've been able to assure the american people that help is on the way. and hopefully help is on the way in an expeditious manner so that it gets to those who need that emergency help quickly. it's regrettable that it's taken this long for some of this money to be appropriated. i personally think that we could have expedited this had we
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gained the support for an amendment i offered in december which would have met immediately emergency needs and but yet given the congress time to work through the process of examining other aspects of the bill that, number one, were not related to sandy; number two, that fell on various members' wish lists of things that they wanted done for their state. of course that's their -- that's their responsibility to do so. but we all know that when you see a train moving out of the station that's going to be passed and going to become law, there's been a temptation through the years to add unrelated matters to that particular bill, knowing that it will get attached to the train and ultimately -- ultimately voted on and supported. we saw what happened during the fiscal cliff debate, too. you know, we had 15 minutes or
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so to examine the final bill, and, of course, later all these egregious examples of spending that had nothing to do with the issue itself but were tacked on at the last minute. and so really what we were trying to talk about here is a process that i believe -- i think and a number of members believe -- is necessary to vet every spending appropriation that comes before this body to ensure it meets the essential function, to ensure that it is not loaded up with extraneous matters, to ensure that we are making the most careful use of taxpayer dollars as is possible. it's not an ideology. it's those of us responding to some very basic math that shows us that we have a decreasing capacity to address these types of emergencies, to address education spending, to address medical research spending, to address transportation spending, to pave roads, to rebuild
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bridges, to address any number of discretionary items that we can debate the value of. that is shrinking dramatically. and so if we don't apply at least some discipline to how we evaluate and how we examine how we're going to go forward without continuing to plunge into debt and to borrow money, which is ultimately unsustainable, then i think we're shirking our duty here. i'm not down here to talk against funding for this disaster. i'm down here to discuss how we together, republicans and democrats, need to apply some discipline to how we make decisions. it's been a time-honored practice here to load up necessary bills with extraneous matters. and it's been a time-honored practice not to provide the oversight necessary to go back and look at how effectively we have spent the taxpayers' dollars in the past and what kind of things


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